cover image or, on being the other woman

or, on being the other woman

Simone White. Duke Univ., $19.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-4780-1846-9

The powerful fourth book from White (House Envy of All the World) challenges and embraces language on fresh terms as it explores motherhood, creativity, music, and Black feminism, “which is not nameless has all the names of us and is nameless and has no intention and is strategic.” A Harvard-educated lawyer, White often omits punctuation and capitalization to create a text that is part poem, part stream-of-complex-consciousness, emerging with an intricate and intimate blueprint of White’s electrifying mind. “What is the relation between pleading and womanhood? is how the problem came to me in the night,” opens one section. In another, she writes, “i feel sorry for anyone who has not reached the conclusion that solitude is too pregnant a state to be rightly associated with desire.” The struggle for solitude, “being hidden and hiding or being held away,” White suggests, is the experience of working mothers. She recalls teaching a class on the materiality of Black womanhood: “i think the unfitness of words is the base from which we might understand such concepts as barbarity, the crudeness of words, their impingements/ such rough modifications as we make/ sweep violently through empty space.” This collection is alive with urgent questions exquisitely posed. (Aug.)