Updated: Oct 4
Hearing people read their sections aloud, I noticed all kinds of nuances and gestures in the language that I had missed when reading the poem parts as they were written (in our google doc), on the website when I posted them (on our website), and later in the book when I edited it. For example, I somehow how missed the beauty and double-meanings of “my mother’s delicate bones” in Susan Kraus’s part, and the loveliness of Megan Kaminski’s lines, “Each day begins deep in sod/streaming over flint, limestone” when I was so busy laying piece by piece of the poem into its whole.
A renga is both linear and like a mosaic, each section illuminating what’s around it but also adding something to the whole landscape of the poem. Now, however, I see what a mosaic in motion looks and sounds like when, at each reading, a different combination of 8 or 28 or however many poets reads, and one poet’s words now resonate with a poet perhaps 6 pages earlier or 22 pages later in the book (as well as a month earlier or 6 weeks later on the website). Time and space rearrange themselves each evening we gather.
Over a year after this project began, the arts are still in question (a new 9-month-old new agency is to distribute grants and create greater opportunities for the arts and artists, not much has happened yet). Yet the poet laureate program, which I carried in my pocket for so long, hoping to guide it to a new harbor, is now at home with the Kansas Humanities Council, and the call for a new poet laureate just went out. The renga, to my surprise, turned out not just to bring poets together — on the web, the page and in an assortment of rooms where we’ll be reading — but to sustain me in a time of confusion, doubt, fear and simply dwelling in not-knowing.
Throughout the last year to now has created a poetic mosaic that tells of this land and sky, and a conversation among poets that helped us hear one another despite how forces may have silenced or separated us. Long may the renga shine, and thanks to the renga for showing me a path.