David McCooey reviews 'Renga: 100 poems' by John Kinsella and Paul Kane

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.’

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Published in March 2018, no. 399

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