You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened

Arisa White. Augury (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-0-9887355-7-6
In this vivid third collection, White (A Penny Saved) weaves sensuality, intimacy, and darkness into assured poems. Many of the poems’ titles are literal translations of euphemisms for “gay” in different languages, and the poems themselves act as a reclamation, celebrating “the catacombs/ of women’s bodies” and the varied forms of love that exist there. The significance of names becomes a theme, too, as in the poem about Sakia Gunn, who was murdered for being gay, which uses the homonym in her name to tell a story: “if you had the weapon of your last name,/ I would not know you.” The book’s elegiac middle section, “Effluvium,” is dedicated to a dead loved one whose memory haunts the narrator: “I drag her everywhere. her funeral wear is ragged.” The body, in all its fallible grace and secret desire, also moves through the book; even the poems that deal with illness and death, including those middle poems, do not shy from it. The seven Mary poems that conclude the book slyly form the colors of a rainbow, and culminate in celebration: “As sure as a bitch who breaks her chain,/ this house knows a rainbow too.” Through trials and tribulations, White insists on love as an antidote to fear of life’s danger. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 10/01/2016
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