18 March 2021

Who's Your Daddy, by Arisa White

First, an overview because I loved it when I read it:
A lyrical, genre-bending coming-of-age tale featuring a queer, Black, Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father.
I committed to post in January, and I failed. Even through many reminders, I procrastinated. Huge apologies all around. Life, moving, unpacking, Dominic going to public school for the first time - it all got in the way.

No more excuses. Too much time wasted in not editing, revising and posting my very eager review of Arisa White's Who's Your Daddy. It's another win for my reading awareness, as the second book I've agreed to read from the Poetic Book Tours does not disappoint.

Who's Your Daddy takes on the explosion of thought and self-awareness of a woman's life told through poetry, each page a single poem, probing her life and the circumstances of the generational trauma of the family she was born into. There is a masculine absence and presence, the dedication of a single mother, a family history steeped in lives from the East Coast to the West, and through Guyanese proverbs and anecdotes.

I read Arisa White's words repeatedly, passages over and again. Poetry is always music when it is at its best, and her writing is even more so: it escalates, crescendos, quiets, and moves with waves of delicate grace and pacing; then shatters you with this knowing, this awareness of the things that happened in her life, how she felt about life knowledge and experience she learned at so early an age, a cultural depth to the interplay within family struggles and quick, brief flashes of men, life, friends. Those who loved her and let her down, betrayed her.

Every word Arisa White wrote, I read each aloud. I liked the way the words felt. Meaty and thoughtful, filled with desperate love, painful awakenings, and more, Arisa White's Who's Your Daddy provoked images and feelings that made me feel strong, small, aware, different, and similar.

I HIGHLY recommend her work of art.

About the Author:

Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College. She is the author of four books, including the poetry collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, and coauthor of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, winner of the Maine Literary Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Middle-Grade Nonfiction. She serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press. Find her at arisawhite.com.

Photo Credit: Nye’ Lyn Tho

Thank you to Serena at the Poetic Book Tours, once again.