A Space for Writers of the World
by Laura Da’
“A letter on the page affirms the being of person.”
Orlando White’s second book of poetry, Letterrs, delves deeply into the territory of language and creation. Conception, quickening, and birth, both figurative and symbolic, are recurring themes that White approaches from oblique angles and manages to illuminate with fresh perspectives. Published by Nightboat Books, this text is both intellectually satisfying and visually appealing. White’s combination of rigorous cerebral interrogations of the codes of communication with unexpected jolts of participatory wit creates a singular flow that moves the reader through the densely symbolic depth of his verse with buoyant lyricism.
In “g”, the poem asks, “how does a letter become another when its origin is lost?” Diné language and worldview underpins the concepts and aesthetics of this book. As such, Letterrs asserts a sovereign intellectual tradition of singular depth, importance, and rigor.
Fittingly, I read Letterrs again and again with the approximate mix of glee, delight, and moderate terror I feel when holding a new baby for the first time. In Paper Milk, White writes, “the verso and recto will be caretakers of our infant text, as writing develops calcium to bring life to ink, letters become collagen of thoughts.” There is a fraught awareness of both fragility and potential, not simply of White’s elegant lines, but also of the reader’s ability to navigate this new world. White’s manuscript allows you to feel the delicate bones beneath the skin.