Leigh White?s Thrilling Me Softly-A Book of Love Poems and Other Typos
When reading Leigh White’s collection, Thrilling Me Softly-A Book of Love Poems and Other Typos, one cannot help but ask the question: is one successful because of misery, or does misery drive one to achieve success? Leigh states in her collection that she's not well read, but in perusing her well-versed collection I realize through this declarative statement she serves up one delicious irony after another. While some readers may find this offputting after reveiwing onto her extensive and successful artistic resume, others, (myself included), will catch on to her roguish writing nature, and enjoy it superbly.
Thrilling is interesting for two reasons: White’s the epitome of juxtaposition. She’s a successful professional artist because achieving anything less than that would make her downright miserable. Despite all her personal accomplishments, there is enough misery to disdain her self-made living situation, which renders her work engaging. She isn’t writing because she’s successful; she’s writing because in spite all her success, she's still very much dictated by her fears, insecurities, and PMS syndrome.
However, Thrilling isn't angry chick lit. There's enough work here to point to the male gender with grandiose, “what the hell, what gives?” ultimatums, and then that same ultimatum is reversed and pointed at herself, stating “I should know better, so what gives?” It's through dual gender analysis the reader gets the feeling White’s razzing the female gender as much as the male-and this creates a very human, and sincere outlook at the frustrating and often complex dynamics between the sexes.
As a whole, Thrilling is quite accomplished. A hefty serving of poetry walks the line between the self indulgent and the trivial without stumbling into either. While this is harder than it sounds, White has given careful consideration to the presentation of her ideas. In fact, some of her shorter works pack as much wallop as her longer, more accomplished pieces.
In addition to the aforementioned gender analysis, White covers a lot of ground thematically; observations on the state of social function in the U.S.; the state of her age (I try to avoid incurring the wrath of women unnecessarily during the first quarter of the year, so I suggests you read the book to find out instead); the state of feminism in religion; and the general state of religion. As a bonus, Thrilling is supplemented with illustrations; some accompany the work, while others add to the ambiance with a distinct brash of irony.
Thrilling is a successful collection from an accomplished artist who shares her vision - through words and visuals - of the juxtaposition between the misery that inspires and drives us, and misery that binds, confounds, and ultimately makes us realize how much we need to grow. This piece, which I will use to bow out and end this review, exemplifies the previous statement:
"Landing Strip Tease"
I don’t know where this is going
You and I
Two personal pronouns on the edge of becoming
Happiness or sorrow
I don’t know where this is going
This may be going
Face first into a mushroom cloud
Feet first out of a magician’s casket
Knee deep into moist shit
Hip first into a tango
Legs first into a taxi
Nose first into fresh garlic and onions
To bed without supper
To hell and back
To the moon Alice, to the moon
Falling from a prepackaged vending machine
Straight into video
Into each other…
Thrilling Me Softly-A Book of Love Poems and Other Typos, Leigh White, copyright 2004, Bellablanca (www.bellablanca.com), $12.99