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Posted October 17, 2010
Poet Nancy White has a sharp style. This refers especially to her use of words; not the mentality of the writing, though this is true as well. Many of the parts of her poems are simple declarative sentences; with their effect so direct and simple that they are metaphorical can be unnoticed. And other types of sections such as compound sentences or compounded phrases and even phrases spread out visually have this same directness and simplicity. With this style, the poems are not lyric or narrative. The overall effect is refraction--the poem comes through in fractal-like pieces. The scope of these in any particular poem can vary. The poem titled "look up' begins, "could you refuse the stars...", followed by such as "chime and cold...the telescope...the cone of night..."; whereas near the beginning of "the water said" is, "...Too much/hair, he says, and flesh, and cigarettes. He was/drunk...."
Another technique White uses giving her poems this sharp, fractal-like quality is the use of the pronoun "you"; e. g., in "thirst", "you watch bubbles cling to the luminous side/of the glass...." This keeps the reader focused on the shiftings going on in the poems; which focus, incidentally, is one reason the metaphors can pass by unnoticed.
White's style serves well her interest in the fits and starts of emotions in certain situations. Reading her poems is a different experience than with most poems.