Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance's Reviews > Crossing State Lines: An American Renga

Crossing State Lines by Bob Holman
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's review
Mar 27, 11

bookshelves: poetry, just-for-fun, creativity, concept-book
Read in March, 2011

I've just read an amazing book.
(Good. I see you streaming in.
Lots of you.
You want to know what I've reading
that is so amazing, right?)

It's a book of poetry.
(Well, that did it.
Cleared the room with one word.)

Wait. Stop. Give me one more minute of your time.
(Thank you for stopping,
even if you are standing at the open door.)

The book is called Crossing State Lines: An American Renga.
A renga is an old Japanese poetic form.
You know haiku?
A renga is similar to a haiku,
only it is done collaboratively.
(Are you still there? One more minute.)

This book is a collaborative effort of fifty-four of
America's greatest living poets.
Everybody is here...Robert Pinsky...Billy Collins...
Adrienne Rich...Edward Hirsch...David Lehman...Rita Dove...
(If you've waited this long, let me reward you with a taste.)

"We're not them,"
the man at Verizon
Help Desk says.

"Okay," I say, "who is 'them'?"
"There is no 'them,'" he says.

Epiphany. A sign
outside Prince Realty:
Need Help? Inquire Within.

All the dry stiff Christmas trees
tip to trunk along the curb.

(So what do you think? she asks, a little too eagerly.
Like it?
If you are rubbing your head in confusion,
read it one more time.

Remember: Poetry isn't a McDonald's hamburger.

If you liked this little part,
just imagine a whole book of it.
And all of it linked together.
And written by some brilliant poets.

If you've left the room
or if you've stayed, but you are still rubbing your head,
that's okay, too.
Just promise me you'll try a bite or two of poetry
on another day.

Think of poetry like snails.
You've got to take it in small nibbles.
And you ain't gonna hear anyone say it tastes like chicken.
Stop thinking that you are eating snails;
just enjoy the incredible taste.)

Thank you to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux for sharing this advanced reader copy with me.
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