Synopses & Reviews
As Gertrude Stein might have put it, a cento is a collage is a mix tape is a video montage.
This hypothetical description is fitting in a number of ways. Although the cento form is ancient—in existence since at least the days of Virgil and Homer—it was also used to striking effect in the Modern era: consider, for example, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Ezra Pound’s Cantos.
More recent centos include John Ashbery’s “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” Peter Gizzi’s “Ode: Salute to The New York School 1950-1970” (a libretto), Connie Hershey’s “Ecstatic Permutations,” and the “Split This Rock Poetry Festival—Cento, March 23, 2008” (a collaborative protest poem delivered in front of the White House).
The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems, edited by Theresa Malphrus Welford and with an introduction by David Lehman, features an extensive sampling of centos, collage poems, and patchwork poems written by Nicole Andonov, Lorna Blake, Alex Cigale, Allan Douglass Coleman, Philip Dacey, Sharon Dolin, Annie Finch, Jack Foley, Kate Gale, Dana Gioia, Sam Gwynn, H. L. Hix, David Lehman, Eric Nelson, Catherine Tufariello, and many others.
“Theresa Welford’s anthology of poems in that curious form the cento is a true labor of love. In an array of patchwork poems by poets famous and poets new, The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems reveals both the dangers of the form (creating chaos) and its rich rewards when performed with wit and creativity on the part of the poet (as in R. S. Gwynn’s hilarious cannibalization of The Norton Anthology of Poetry). No one will supercede this achievement for a long time, I’d guess—maybe not for a hundred years.”
—X. J. Kennedy
About the Author
Theresa Malphrus Welford, who hails from a working-class background in the state of Georgia, has taught at the University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, Western Carolina University, and the University of Cincinnati. At Georgia Southern, where she currently teaches, she has developed a number of writing courses, including Writing the Animal and Writing the Undead. The students in Theresa’s First-Year Writing and Creative Writing courses regularly participate in Books of Hope, in which they research, write, and illustrate books for young readers in Uganda, Africa. She and her husband are very involved with local animal-rescue groups, and are the happy parents of nine beasts, former rescues all.
Theresa is currently working on several projects: creative nonfiction, poetry, and storybooks for children. She has published poetry, essays, articles, book chapters, as well as The Paradelle: An Anthology (Red Hen Press, 2005). She is the editor of The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems, which was published by Red Hen Press in 2011.