Monday, June 02, 2008

Introduction for Simone White (by Erica Kaufman)

(photo by erica kaufman)

Simone White, a Cave Canem fellow, is the author of a collaborative chapbook in conversation with the paintings of Kim Thomas (from Q Avenue Press). Currently a doctoral student in English at CUNY Graduate Center, she lives in Brooklyn.

“The ardor of the metropolis” permeates Simone White’s poems, full of fierce landscapes, memory-scapes, and body topographies. White writes “Into the street, carrying my own entry” and asks pertinent questions like “what is the paradise?” And, in her imperative inquiries, Simone invites her readers to devote, deliberate, defy, delight, and dissent. And, I can’t help but hear echoes of Milton, his subversive epic musicality, and what White gracefully refers to as “manifesting the primal urge to make oneself over as heroic.” In her landmark book, Milton and his Epic Tradition, Joan Malory Webber writes, “to be heroic in the epic tradition involves knowing and accepting, and at best learning unsteady control over, the sheer animal energy of human nature. It involves accepting life in a world that does not necessarily improve.”

Whether it be under a Bedford Stuyvesant lamppost or “in the middle country,” Simone White’s poetry understands that “perfect desire reveals itself most naturally through song” and also “like suburbs, not independently epic.” As Ralph Ellison writes in his seminal essay, “Living with Music,” “In those days it was either live with music or die with noise and we chose rather desperately to live.”

Please join me in welcoming Simone White.


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