The Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner

Michael Ruby

The Star-Spangled Banner spans the 15-year arc from 9/11 to 11/9, concluding with a poem based on voices overheard the night of Trump's election by poet Michael Ruby, a journalist who has covered U.S. politics for decades. Ruby began the book in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when he saw people freely using U.S. national symbols for their own political purposes. He decided to do the same thing for poetic purposes. Every poem in the book, which is dedicated to Jasper Johns and Jimi Hendrix, uses the 81 words of the national anthem and inserts words into the spaces between them. The poems have different vocabularies—sometimes surrealist like Ruby's related book, American Songbook (2013), sometimes documentary and personal like his trilogy Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (2012). The Star-Spangled Banner is an artistic encounter with one of America's leading national symbols, using the frame of Francis Scott Key's War of 1812 lyrics in unexpected ways, and an unusual verbal and emotional portrait of the time from 9/11 to 11/9.

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