Arisa White

29th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist; 
2016 Julie Suk Award Longlist Finalist;
Winner of the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize

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As a poet and dramatist, I use writing, mindfulness, and somatic-based techniques to bring healing attention to what is silenced, forgotten, or ignored. My queer black female aesthetic: intersectionality is both content and form. The “I” functions as a gearshift. Often my subjects are socially marginalized within our systems of organization and through my writing I’m deepening social justice literacy and developing a greater capacity for reading connections between systems of government, the environment, brown and black bodies, sexism and homophobia, and wellness. I want people to heal themselves through storytelling and locate the poetry in their lives to build narratives that are nuanced and varied. That centers truth and love as power, which requires embodiment—rootedness in the emotional intelligence of the body. Doing so creates new pathways for creativity to emerge.

White weaves sensuality, intimacy, and darkness into assured poems. — Publisher's Weekly

Arisa White is a poet to aspire to. — Kenyon Review

Arisa White repurposes pain and inscribes it with love, tenderness, poetry. “You” becomes witness to the beauty held in what was once called derogatory. “You” is able to witness the act of reclaiming language. — Lambda Literary



Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and author of the poetry chapbooks Post Pardon, Black Pearl, and “Fishing Walking” and Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife—winner of the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. Hurrah’s Nest (Virtual Artists Collective, 2012) was a nominee for the Phillis Wheatley Book Awards, California Book Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards. A Penny Saved (Aquarius Press, 2012) is inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell who was held captive in her home. Roxane Gay calls White's newest collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened (Augury Books, 2016), “an assured and memorable book of poetry, one that provokes thought as it provokes a depth of feeling.”

Awarded a 2013-14 Cultural Funding grant from the City of Oakland to create the libretto and score for Post Pardon: The Opera, she received, in that same year, an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation to fund the dear Gerald project, which takes a personal and collective look at absent fathers. As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates cultural events and artistic collaborations that center narratives of queer people of color. She serves on the board of directors for Nomadic Press and is a faculty advisor in the low- residency BFA Creative Writing Program at Goddard College. Arisa White is based out of Oakland, CA.

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