|PRAISE FOR PLEASE
BURY ME IN THIS
"Allison Benis White is a
poet driven by duende, what Federico García Lorca called
“the true struggle,” in which an artist sees the possibility of
death up close—so close it burns her blood “like powdered glass.”
In her extraordinary new duende-driven collection, Allison
Benis White writes so intimately of our proximity to death that
each line becomes, as she writes in one poem, like a mouth “open
to snow.” "
"In Please Bury Me in This, Allison Benis White
articulates loss as the vine that winds, hungry for contact, into
and around emptiness to become something beautiful. Her delicate
and elegant furor scribendi reads like a lucid dream in which mortality—the
wonder of it, as well as its attendant terrors—is made palpable.
“Not fonder, not fonder—the heart grows stranger,” she writes, in
a clarity so accurate it hurts. This book haunts."
"“I am you gone,” writes the narrator of Allison Benis
White’s engrossing and sorrowful new book. Please Bury Me in
This is an extended elegy, not only for the dead, but for writing,
for poetry itself. Run through by white space, these pages hover
somewhere between a poetic line and a sentence—‘I am writing you
this letter./ I am trying to understand sentences,’ says the narrator
and, later, “these words, their spectacular lack.”….While the book
suggests some additional concerns, addiction, for one, the unrelenting
gaze at mortality is the central action and activity of this powerful
new volume. Please Bury Me in This is, again, in White’s
compelling words, “the softest howl.”"
"Allison Benis White’s sentences and fragments move
very delicately around something absent at their center, delineating
that something more and more precisely until, finally, we know it
absolutely and intimately without, still, being able to name it.
Haunting and resonant, these images all fall perfectly, exactly
where they're needed, building up into a whole that extends far
beyond this extraordinary book."
|PRAISE FOR SMALL
"This brilliant book-length
collection of prose poems transforms a death into a haunting. Small
Porcelain Head is written into the fragility, the already shattered
state of loss: 'I left a sweater on a train in Dover last fall–if
I would have shivered, noticed emptiness or shoulders.' The site
of brokenness functions as both the location of the lyric and the
moment of release for the living–bereavement or descent into the
suicide of the relinquished life are parallel ways of letting a
voice go. The landscape of these poems recalls a musical score where
despair flees and chases itself eternally. Once read, Small
Porcelain Head refuses the page–it circles and harmonizes that
which cannot be harmonized. I was mezmerized."
Claudia Rankine, Judge, the Four Way Books
Levis Prize in Poetry
|PRAISE FOR SELF-PORTRAIT
"An oblique conversation with
Degas reigns throughout this collection of oddly heartbreaking pieces.
Against the backdrop of his paintings and sketches, we find ourselves
in an intimate world, coherent but uncanny, where private memory
becomes inseparable from the culture we hold in common, and all
of it just barely cracked open, riven by interstices through which
we glimpse the vivid but unsayable. White has given us a truly exceptional
first collection, deeply musical and intricately haunting."
Cole Swensen, author of Ours and
the Book of A Hundred Hands
"I found myself thinking of Frost as I read these
beautifully disturbing poems–'The whole great enterprise of life,
of the world, the great enterprise of our race, is our penetration
into matter, deeper and deeper, carrying the spirit deeper into
matter.' Allison Benis White does just that, pulsing between a childlike
wonder at the things of this world, and a seemingly hard-earned
self-consciousness at the difficulty in naming them–in these poems
a mother is missing, a God is to be feared, the snow is broken,
and yet, 'maybe this is enough: to lose.' This is an amazing debut."
Nick Flynn, author of Some Ether and
"A fugitive mother haunts these prose poems
where absences are presences that 'briefly in the air crown the
shape of what is no longer there.' Although Degas–another motherless
child–provides conceptual armature for Allison Benis White's portrayals,
this book might be A Season in Hell for our times. Its
descents, sudden and disorienting, exert enormous pressure; there's
a narcosis of the depths in the voice, a refusal of return to mere
surfaces that echoes Rimbaud. Yet White's poems are also intimate
as a box of pins–bright sharps she pricks into the map of orphan-world,
to mark each site of betrayal and bewilderment."
Robert Hill Long, author of The Work of
the Bow and The Effigies
"These poems are beautiful, sometimes achingly
so. Allison Benis White writes from a unique sensibility, and I
admire and am moved by her capacity for sight. I noticed myself
holding my breath as I read, for there's an exquisite tension created
in the deftly unfolding juxtaposition of image, meaning and sound.
Each of her sentences is a stroke, and her poems gradually sketch
stunning works that reward the reader."
Forrest Hamer, author of Rift and
Call & Response
"Allison Benis White's work doesn't just convey
sincerity, but is undeniably genuine. Her use of the prose poem
form is particularly suited to profundity hidden in the everyday,
to a kind of casual brilliance. It strikes me that, more important
than being poetic, Ms. White has tried to be a feeling human, and
has worked carefully to craft that discipline into beauty.
Killarney Clary, author of Potential Stranger
and Who Whispered Near Me