Poets aren’t generally known for being great collaborators. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads (1798) is a rare example of a co-authored canonical work of poetry. Renga: 100 poems, by John Kinsella and Paul Kane, has some similarities to Lyrical Ballads. Like those of its Romantic precedent, the poems in Renga are single-authored, the collaboration being project-based rather than an exercise in joint composition. Like Lyrical Ballads, Renga reanimates an old form for contemporary times. But unlike Lyrical Ballads, Renga is a work of explicit (and equal) dialogue. Each poet takes his turn in poetic conversation, inspired by the Japanese Renga form, a collaborative venture in which poets take turns composing linked stanzas. As Kane describes in his Foreword (Kinsella gets the Afterword), ‘Call and respond was the modality, though John and I took turns in taking the lead.’
David McCooey reviews 'Renga: 100 poems' by John Kinsella and Paul Kane
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David McCooey is a prize-winning poet and critic. His latest collection of poems, Outside (2011), was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, and was a finalist for the 2012 Melbourne Prize for Literature's 'Best Writing Award'. His first collection, Blister Pack (2005), won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four major national literary awards. McCooey is the deputy general editor of the prize-winning Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009). His album of 'poetry soundtracks', Outside Broadcast, was released in 2013 as a digital download. He is a professor of literature and writing at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives. His forthcoming poetry collection, Star Struck, will be published in late 2016 by UWA Publishing. His website is: www.davidmccooey.com
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