Arisa White received her MFA from UMass, Amherst, and is the author of Perfect on Accident, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Black Pearl, Post Pardon, A Penny Saved, and Hurrah’s Nest. Her poetry has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, NAACP Image Award, California Book Award and Wheatley Book Award. The chapbook “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. She’s the co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice series for young readers. As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates cultural events and artistic collaborations that center narratives of queer and trans people of color. Arisa is on the advisory board for Gertrude and serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College.
After Watching Obama Win His First Presidency, We Go See Tina Tuna
You take Anna Mae’s stage name and make it fish.
Dressed in tulle and sparkle, in platform stilettos,
drag Tina, more masculine than her muscles can ever be
into a river so queer the water maquillages our faces.
I’m a clap waiting to happen. Your hands, thick and brimming,
articulate the beat of our bodies meeting—the church wakes
in my chest, the choir quivers with Tina Turner’s lips. Your mouth
around every note without your baritone pouring into that hoarse hook
about breaking and staying. How do you not sink into the song
until it grins with your teeth? Between your hard cleavage, I slip
a five into the wailing aperture found in any woman’s heart,
into the part of the sun we don’t see as blue.
You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened (Augury Books,2016)
Black Pearl (Nomadic Press, 2016) [chapbook]
A Penny Saved (Willow Books/Aquarius Press, 2012)
Hurrah’s Nest (Virtual Artists Collective, 2012)
3Post Pardon (Mouthfeel Press, 2011) [chapbook]
Disposition for Shininess (Factory Hollow Press, 2008) [chapbook]
“Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife (Per Diem Press) [chapbook]
- dear Gerald, finalist for the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize
- Honorable Mention, Rita Dove Poetry Prize, Center for Women Writers, Salem College, NC 2015
- Pushcart Prize Nominations, 2014 & 2004
- Investing in Artist Grant, Center for Cultural Innovation, Los Angeles, California, 2013-14
- Individual Artist Grant, Cultural Funding Program, City of Oakland, California, 2013-14
- 2013 Wheatley Book Awards in Poetry finalist— Hurrah’s Nest, June 2013
- 82nd California Book Awards in Poetry finalist— Hurrah’s Nest, April 2013
- 44th NAACP Image Award Nomination—Hurrah’s Nest, December 2012
- The 2012 San Francisco Book Festival Award—Poetry Winner for Hurrah’s Nest
- Emerging playwright award, PlayGround, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2011