Today, I wanted to share a verse from a lovely new picture book of interlinked renga verse by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko. The book is called Birds on a Wire, and it’s a "portrait of a day in an American village." The illustrations are by Gary Lippincott.
|Here’s one of my favorite verses:
two blocks beyond excitement,
circling him back to a girl
–from Birds on a Wire, with permission
I was really interested in the collaborative aspect of this book, and I asked Pat a few questions, which he kindly answered.
1) Did you ever receive a verse from Paul and think, "Now what am I supposed to do with this?" Or did it all flow smoothly?
Not really. Paul started it off, I followed, then it was back and forth till I finished the final stanza on our
little idyll in middle America.
2) Was there any thought of attributing the verses so people know whose is whose? Have kids asked whose is whose?
No, we wanted no attribution. The idea was that this would be a seamless renga, words to the fore, poets taking a back seat.
3) Do you think fans of yours and or Paul Janeczko’s would be able to tell who wrote which ones?
I hope not. We both trust each other’s abilities, and I don’t think either of us would quibble with what the other wrote.
Pat’s answer to the attribution question reminded me of a poetry volume I love called Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry. It’s short poems written back and forth between Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. The back cover says, "When asked about attributions for the individual poems, one of them replied, ‘Everyone gets tired of this continuing cult of the personality…This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials.’ "
For more, see Sylvia Vardell’s post, and Wild Rose Reader’s interview with Paul and interview with Pat. I thought someone (Kelly? I thought it was you) had posted a terrific, in-depth review of the book recently, but I don’t find it on her blog. If you know of a recent excellent review of this book, in addition to what I’ve listed, will you let me know? Thanks! I didn’t write a review specifically because somebody had already said lots of good stuff!
Two Writing Teachers has the Poetry Friday roundup today. Check it out!