The Clearing

The Clearing

Walt McDonald First-Book Series in Poetry

by Philip White

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Imprint: Texas Tech University Press

88 Pages, 0.00 x 0.00 x 0.00

  • Hardcover
  • 9780896726055
  • Published: April 2007


Revolving around the deaths of the poet’s parents and first wife, The Clearing is a sustained meditation on the nature of love and its transformations. Perpetually dissatisfied with memory and what one poem calls “the falsehoods about death” we tell ourselves, White’s poems turn on emotional openness and probing inquiry. “How moving it is to find a book so haunted by tragedy and death that is, in addition, soberly life-affirming. A clearing is an empty space, but it is also a habit of mind, an act of clarification. Philip White knows pain’s truths, the most awful of which is that the dead don’t come back. After such knowledge, he then recognizes that ‘mind-changing sorrow dribbles away.’ His poems record irreplaceable loss, and they also represent one man’s resilience and his ability to feel and love again. The Clearing is a very promising debut.” —Willard Spiegelman “Philip White’s remarkable sequence conveys with great force the emptying of self and world through the loss of a sustaining love, and the grim, gradual outliving of that state. Though anything but metronomic, his poems have a versatile formal strength, and can, for instance, make use at moments of the sonnet’s structure. Even when confronting a world void of meaning, White has an admirable descriptive power, and nothing could be more vivid than these graveside lines from ‘East Lawn’:” First the flowers were thrown, then the earth. I remember the rich incremental dark by shovelful smothering their flaming colors like a cloudbank slowly blotting out stars. —Richard Wilbur