Reading for a Quiet Morning ~ Petra WhiteDesign, Typesetting, Cover, GloriaSMH Press
Petra White’s poetry is distinctive for its sharp and unusual imagery, its authoritative expressions of the inner life and its existential preparedness and irony. At the heart of this book, her fourth collection, is mythic imagination and narrative. The ancient Book of Ezekiel is the source for a compact epic, “How the Temple Was Built”. Playful in its invention, this poem is terrifying and poignant. The Bible account is reinvented through a secular and feminist lens, touching on familiar concerns of war and displacement. The old epic tropes – love, death, faith, despair – drive this story. White’s myth-making and character-making explore the limits of being human and the limits of being a god. This is followed by a sequence of lyric poems that open up to almost iconic stillness – thirteen “Landscapes” examining human solitariness. They feature a spread of figures from ancient to modern, having at their centre a powerful triptych on the Oedipus myth. Reading for a Quiet Morning, which also includes several spirited versions of Rilke, and one surprising poem in her personal style, is Petra White’s wisest collection so far.