Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Goddess of the Hunt is Not Herself, by Sam White

Slope Editions, 2005

Reviewed by Sandra Simonds

There is something distinctly off-kilter about the interior and exterior landscapes of Sam White’s The Goddess of the Hunt is Not Herself. Lines like “And though the hot air balloon / was an afterthought of farmland, / it contained our deepest wish / for agreement.” and “Confetti is the hand that tosses it” reveal an incongruous world where notions of unity and agreement are desired, but not fulfilled, and this schism propels the book along a strange and beautiful path. As he says in the last line of the book’s title poem, “Whatever happens next is your kiss.” “To live here” he writes in “The Cycle of Life,” “you must be celebrant. You must be equal parts water and confetti” and the book feels its way through the emptiness of its odd prescription.

White’s writing is spare but precise. Ennui is matched with mystery but a sense of humor is also present and the following long title definitely had me laughing: “Lower the Dachshund into the Mountainous Panorama; It was the Missing Segment and Now Bravely Yips into the Frontier.” White creates a place of what is out of place. What I enjoy the most about this book is the loneliness that is addressed from such unusual angles. His world is vibrant and continually transforms, as in these lines from “Creation Myth”: “In one short day the finch is swapped for an owl / the owl for a ghost” yet there is no obvious reason why. “So much goes horribly unsaid,” White says in “Announcement” and this might be the radiant crux of the world made inside these poems.


SAM WHITE graduated from Colby College and the Iowa Writers Workshop. He has published poems in such journals as The Boston Review, The Paris Review,The Harvard Review, Ploughshares, American Letters & Commentary and elsewhere. He founded and helped coordinate the Jubilat Reading Series with publisher Robert Casper in Somerville, MA. His adventures reading ten great poems to passersby in Times Square, New York City, were chronicled in Poets & Writers magazine. He currently lives at Monohasset Mill, an artist community housed in a historic mill complex in Providence, RI, where he's condo association president. He serves on the board of directors for The Steel Yard, an abutting industrial arts nonprofit. He also teaches at the University of Rhode Island, and is at work on his second book poems and a graphic novel of some proportion.


SANDRA SIMONDS lives in Tallahassee, Florida where she is a PhD student in Creative Writing, and the editor of the forthcoming Wildlife Poetry Magazine. She graduated from UCLA in 2000 and the University of Montana in 2003. She has poems forthcoming in Volt, The Canary, Seneca Review and New Orleans Review.