Five Reasons to Read: Wanting It, Diana Whitney
Review by AK Afferez
“It” is, of course, open to interpretation, but the “it” our mind first gravitates to is never left bashfully unsaid. From running away from Julio’s marriage proposal on the kindergarten playground (and it’s not a proposal, rather a request) to a wedding gown that “hangs like a ghost / in the guest room” – everything hinges on that perilous axis that is – what would you call “it” exactly? Love? Lust? Seduction and longing?
“In May I was a conduit, a clear channel / now November has me nailed to an empty field”
The sensuality is undeniable, but beyond creating this taut undercurrent of eroticism that animates the collection, it helps you refocus your attention, acquire a synesthetic vision that plunges you into the texture of things. Desire clarifies reality, intensifies it. Here, nights are worth “twice [their] weight in syrup” and snow “hissed like steam.” And what to make of the four baby birds, “curled / like one mangled creature”? Eros/Thanatos; old dichotomies made raw and new again.
Diana Whitney has an ear for opening and closing lines, the ones that beckon and demand to be read through, that compel you to go on, that linger in your mind far after having closed the book, that suddenly resurface in your mind when you least expect them but that impose themselves with such force and clarity that you know – here and now, they have helped you attain some greater hidden truth.
The woman who speaks here is many, is one. These are not exactly poems about coming of age, but rather about coming into the world, each poem stepping into a new arc of self-discovery. “It” is also that deep-seated desire to go forth and experience. There’s wonder and pain. We’re “bracing / for the long haul.”