cover image Of Being Dispersed

Of Being Dispersed

Simone White. Futurepoem (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9960025-4-7

Probing the relationship between blackness and displacement, White (House Envy of All the World), program director at the Poetry Project, concludes that the creation of a personal identity does not happen in a melting pot, but rather in a compressor. As she slips in and out of forms, dialects, and registers, White demonstrates that various cultural influences collide in a single individual, producing an ever-shifting foundation. Poems such as “Song Cave” showcase a biting self-awareness, yet resist easy access. White writes, “clearly the screw was me/ but the jaws were multiple more at least than two/ I dangled lonely in the van beneath the scrotum of Jeff Daniels.” The poem’s moments of clear introspection appear as fleeting reflections, only to be exchanged for visceral images shrouded in mystery. Other poems, such as “Preliminary Notes on Street Attacks,” take a different route, unpacking how whiteness inadvertently shapes blackness: “it looks bad to yell at a white man in public/ even if he has pushed you out of the way.” The message becomes clear—one cannot fully escape one’s blackness when in the presence of whiteness. Sharp and vibrant, White can make her readers work, and her poems never fail to engage. (June)