Robert Bringhurst’s “Blue Roofs of Japan: A Performance Text” is the poet’s first attempt at a polyphonic poem. Published in Pieces of Map, Pieces of Music in 1986, “Blue Roofs of Japan” is fully intended to be a performance piece as the subtitle attests. More than that, it is intended to be a text that is performed by a man and a woman.
The typesetting of the poem is an important as the text itself. As Bringhurst explains, the full text appears on both the right and left side of the page but the two parts of the poem “are not always legible on any one page.” The result is something very much like what the poet envisioned as a jazz duet.
Before publication in the book, “Blue Roofs of Japan: A Performance Text” won the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Poetry Competition in 1985.