Crossing State Lines: An American Renga is a poetic relay race across the continent: fifty-four poets responding to ideas of America—and to one other. This is a collaborative journey of impressions—from the election and inauguration of President Obama, through foreclosures, job losses, chords of country music; to bombs in Baghdad and a poet-soldier’s rifle-sight in Afghanistan.
The renga itself, in the ancient tradition of Japanese linked verse, provides the form of this historic conversation among the poets as they meditate, within ten lines, on a moment in America. Crossing State Lines begins with Robert Pinsky's recounting of a line of poetry by Lincoln as fall deepens and "maples / kindle in the East" and ends, some five hundred lines later, with Robert Hass's "greeny April" on the Pacific coast.
The renga was overseen by Bob Holman and Carol Muske-Dukes, co-curators of the poetry stream of the movement America: Now and Here.
All proceeds from sales of this book go to America: Now and Here, a cross-country journey of art and ideas initiated by the artist Eric Fischl to bring art to communities large and small across America. The appearance of these traveling art galleries/performance spaces is meant to ignite creativity, launch thoughtful dialogue, and inspire a bold vision for a shared future. Crossing State Lines is the response of a paradise of poets to this idea; other disciplines are responding with plays, music, and visual art.