Luckily, we [...] have Paisley Rekdal, a writing professor and poet laureate of Utah. In her new book, Appropriate, Rekdal addresses the conundrum of cultural appropriation with patience and care. She is deliberate as she picks her way through questions, focusing on literature, with close readings of poetry and prose that give heft to her case. The book’s power comes from its slow progress and occasional reversals, so a summary feels unfair, but her basic thesis is that culture is situated in its moment; careful consideration of where each of us is in that moment informs what we create, how we read, what literature is lifted up and what is left out.
Rekdal examines cultural and subject appropriation in all its manifestations—commercial, ethical, and racial—by exploring poetry and other literary works ... Her examination of racial fakes, such as the nonexistent Japanese poet Yasusada (probably the creation of a white American writer), is excellent ... This book asks many thought-provoking questions for students and potential writers to consider ... Highly recommended for creative writing students or readers interested in this extremely relevant topic.
... six cogent, thoughtful letters about the vexed problem of cultural appropriation ... Rekdal makes the useful distinction between adaptation [...] and appropriation ... Rekdal’s sophisticated analysis reveals a generous respect for the creative process ... An astute, lucid examination of an incendiary issue.
The essays take the form of a series of letters addressed to a student in one of Rekdal’s creative writing classes who had asked for a recommendation for an essay to help better understand appropriation in literature ... This passionate, nuanced take will raise sharp questions for literary-minded readers.