Poems that travel with a sense of urgency, bearing witness to precarious beauty, fleeting joy and the unfinished work required to survive.
The poems in this collection are located in many places including Italy, Russia, Hawaii, Florida, France, Texas, Minnesota and elsewhere. These different places are roots of the same tree that stands in the midst of a threatened and still beautiful earth. Through multiple locations, White explores how we might continue to live inside this vanishing with all the tools that have always been at our disposal: wonder, grief, hope and joy. The poems are meditations on this perilous moment in time and the demands that this moment places on anyone to stay curious and grateful even in the midst of our inability to change course or self-correct with a view toward the greater interconnectedness of all things.
J.P. White is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South.
He has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in many places including The Nation, The New Republic, The Gettysburg Review, Agni Review, Catamaran, APR, Salamander, Catamaran, North American Review, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, Southern Review, The Massachusetts Review, Water-Stone, The New York Times, Willow Springs, Crazyhorse, Peripheries, and Poetry (Chicago). Whiskey & Hard Water, a second novel, is forthcoming in 2024 from Regal House Publishing. He is the editor-at-large for Plant-Human Quarterly.
“J.P. White is a maker of dazzling metaphors and great phrases, constantly tweaking the language to make it new, shifting perspectives that cause readers to do a double-take on the world. He is both sensualist and metaphysician, asking the large questions in tightly controlled sentences, then answering them in lush imagery from human or natural worlds. These are wisdom-poems and fables that seem to come from another world, even as their astonishing imagery and incidents root firmly in this one: “No one now remembers when the sun/last scorched the back of their neck,/or when the tree shadows became the oldest of friends./Can’t find this city?/It could be just over there… beneath the sea grape, banyan and Benjamin fig.””
—Neil Shepard, editor of Plant-Human Quarterly
“There is a resonant and essential humanity in the poems of A Tree Becomes a Room. J.P. White’s poems give us a factual, first-hand appraisal of the human condition within an original and engaging imagination. A deep embrace of the world is balanced by irony, humor, and a sure sense of craft. Line to line the poems deliver fresh and unique takes on experience that expand our understanding of ourselves. This is an exceptional book.”
—Christopher Buckley, editor of Salt