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 dont 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.
Philip White has lived in Utah, Hong Kong, and Massachusetts, and, most recently, Danville, Kentucky, where he teaches Shakespeare and early English literature at Centre College. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Southern Review, New England Review, Southwest Review, Antioch Review, Literary Imagination, The Journal, Quarterly West, Sewanee Review, and other publications.