Friday, April 22, 2011

American renga and race

I was listening to a story on NPR this morning about a new poetry book Crossing State Lines: An American Renga. A renga is a collaborative style of oral poetry from the ancient far east. Think poetry duals during Renaissance Europe. Or, and this is my point, rap duals in modern day America.

My problem is partially with the book title "American Renga," but I see a point in that... A lot of the poets in this book are poet laureats from different states from across the country। My larger problem is with the spin given on this story, the lack of discussion of other collaborative poetry that occurs on a regular basis in this country. Linked poetry that circulates in the daily lives of people who may not be the target audience of NPR's listenership.

If this story was done because April is poetry month, as it claims, then does there not need to be a discussion of the context of the poetic form, or for the modern evolution of the form that has brought this project about? (The story was more than 7 minutes long, after all.)

Maybe I should stop listening to NPR.

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