Allison Benis White



"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



"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 Blind Huber

"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





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