Valley of Want by Ross White
Available from the publisher
“Sometimes you have to imagine yourself as the villain, even when you know you’re the hero. Don’t worry, Ross White has already done that difficult work for you. And in his poems we find the stories we need to survive the very worst of ourselves—as flawed lovers, citizens of a failing nation, willful beasts full of unquenchable desires. But even as ‘the wrappers shimmer / ugly in the sun’ and a hummingbird crashes into the feeder ‘like the phantom / of loss,’ these poems carry us towards the richly voiced solace of abundance, the kind where hunger answers hunger with more.”
“An imaginary illness requires an imaginary cure, or so a friend of mind used to say in moments of trial and difficulty. Ross White’s poems deal with a number of illnesses, personal and cultural (some of them as real as it gets)—the cure they propose is some compound of bracing honesty, wit, sure music, and generosity-in-spite-of-the-world. His chemistry is good medicine, the best kind, tough and tenderhearted, and I swallowed it down. I feel it buzzing there still in my head, long after I finished this marvelous book. I believe it will keep us all sailing.”
“Ross White’s Valley of Want is a devastatingly beautiful collection giving voice to the stages of grief, loss, and even the anger we have all felt as we scroll our screens, or when we find ourselves crippled by the limitation of our own bodies, or when we are just at our wit’s end. But what I love most about Valley of Want is the way it refuses to deliver a catalog of sad complaints. No! White’s poems demand we see the fullness of this beautiful world—that we keep looking, that we turn through the darkness and take in the world’s most tender joy.”
Ross White is the author of Charm Offensive, winner of the 2019 Sexton Prize, and two chapbooks, How We Came Upon the Colony and The Polite Society. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Tin House, and The Southern Review, among others. He teaches creative writing and grammar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and directs Bull City Press. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswhite.