How do we properly define cultural appropriation, and is it always wrong? If we can write in the voice of another, should we? And if so, what questions do we need to consider first? In Appropriate, creative writing professor Paisley Rekdal addresses a young writer to delineate how the idea of cultural appropriation has evolved—and perhaps calcified—in our political climate.
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.