by Elizabeth Hoover
Few white poets write about race, and when they do, they mostly write about racism by exploring historical wrongs or gazing at the Other. In her new project, tentatively titled “Frayed,” Joy Katz explicitly takes on whiteness.
One of her inspirations was her adopted son, who was born Vietnam. She saw other white parents ignore their adopted children’s race and instead raise them as white. To avoid this, Katz—author of All You Do Is Perceive, The Garden Room, and Fabulae— wanted to understand what raising a child “as white” means, a difficult task when white culture is rarely discussed or explored.
Although the spark for this project was personal, the resulting poems engage whiteness in the broadest sense and employ structural innovation to “fray the fabric of whiteness” that Katz says surrounds her life. “The alternative is to keep writing unaware within whiteness,” Katz writes in her contribution to Claudia Rankine’s Open Letter Project. “And that seems impossibly limiting.” Continue reading this post…