In her fourth full-length book, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, Kiki Petrosino turns her gaze to Virginia, where she digs into her genealogical and intellectual roots, while contemplating the knotty legacies of slavery and discrimination in the Upper South. From a stunning double crown sonnet, to erasure poetry contained within DNA testing results, the poems in this collection are as wide-ranging in form as they are bountiful in wordplay and truth. In her poem 'The Shop at Monticello,' she writes: 'I’m a black body in this Commonwealth, which turned black bodies/ into money. Now, I have money to spend on little trinkets to remind me/ of this fact. I’m a money machine & my body constitutes the common wealth.' Speaking to history, loss, and injustice with wisdom, innovation, and a scientific determination to find the poetic truth, White Blood plants Petrosino’s name ever more firmly in the contemporary canon.
The New York Times, “Poems that Poets Turn to in a Time of Strife”
The New York Times Book Review, “New and Noteworthy”
Publishers Weekly "Spring 2020 Announcements, Top 10"
Library Journal, “Black Voices Matter 2020”
Publishers Weekly, “An Anti-Racist Poetry Reading List”
Rumpus, “What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Women’s History”
The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry: May 2020”
Library Journal, "Versifying / Collection Development: Poetry"
Poets.org, "National Poetry Month Books for 2020"
Southern Review of Books, “The Best Southern Books of May 2020”
"'I’m a black body in this Commonwealth, which turned black bodies / into money,' Petrosino writes in her fourth book, eyeing race, history, genetics and hope through the crucible of Virginia."
—The New York Times Book Review, print, “New and Noteworthy”
"This is an important and remarkable exploration of heritage."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The result of deep historical research, impressive formal dexterity, and savvy storytelling, this volume of poetry combines genealogy, history, and verse in a way that reflects many American experiences."
"These poems candidly tackle questions of identity, historical injustice, and suffering while suggesting the possibility of greater understanding through scientific innovation."
—Publishers Weekly, “Spring 2020 Announcements”
"Another ambitious volume from Petrosino."
—The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry: May 2020”
“Petrosino composes poems that burn and sizzle, that pierce the reader with their masterful crafting and heightened vulnerability; she breaks open and digs into bother her personal past, where she ‘grew like a braid / in bad light,’ as well as American society’s ‘throb-in-throat’ past.”
—Poets & Writers, “Between Worlds: A Q&A with Poet Kiki Petrosino”
"The collection has a searching, yearning momentum that is cut by the wry intellect of a speaker who knows her pursuit of historical meaning remains subject to the same colonial forces that influenced the lives of her ancestors."
"Petrosino showcases her mastery of form."
—The Arkansas International
"White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, is deeply personal, exploring the genealogy and legacy of her African-American ancestors in Virginia. At the same time, [Petrosino] grapples with the messy history of slavery and discrimination in America, and of the sometimes difficult, often abiding choices that families of every stripe have to make. It’s part of Petrosino’s unique ability as a poet to capture the expansive within the intimate, the ungainly within precise poetic forms."
—"Art Talk with NEA Literature Fellow Kiki Petrosino" by Rebecca Sutton, National Endowment for the Arts
"[T]he ever-popular Kiki Petrosino excavates her roots to understand the impact of slavery and discrimination in the Upper South."
—"Versifying / Collection Development: Poetry" by Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Merg[es] fierce intelligence with sharp music.”
"There is such a lovely, clean precision to Petrosino’s lines."
—Rob McClennan, Periodicities
“Kiki Petrosino has been perfecting a form of weaponized valentine, a love poem armed with play and appraisal, ever since her amazing debut. Her poems charm and fillet. In White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia home is filled with history and possibility, 'that twoness one ever feels' in place and body. Both singular lyric poem and mercurial sequence featuring epistles, erasures, and sonnets, this book is wonderfully irreducible. It’s further evidence of Kiki Petrosino’s limitless, inimitable talent.”
—Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin and Lighthead
“Fueled by what it means to identify your own blood, White Blood is a masterful book of poems that excavates, resurrects, and stares clear-eyed into history. Petrosino's intricate attention to sound and the muscularity of the poetic line make these poems explode in both the ear and the heart. Here is a poet at her best.”
—Ada Limón, author of The Carrying and Bright Dead Things
“In this meditation, Petrosino unlocks the history of Virginia and its racial intersections. White Blood is a magical collection, and Petrosino leads the reader through the geography of her origin with reverence. What does this body have to say of a Commonwealth never designed to include it? This voice has escaped alone to sing to us.”
—T.J. Jarrett, author of Zion and Ain’t No Grave