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.