Arisa White

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Colby College

Photo by Nye’ Lyn Tho

Arisa White is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College and author of several poetry collections, which have been nominated for an NAACP Image Award, Lambda Literary Award, California Book Award, and Wheatley Book Award. She is the co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice Series, which won the Maine Literary Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Middle-Grade Nonfiction. Published in March 2021, from Augury Books, her poetic memoir Who’s Your Daddy is a lyrical, genre-bending tale featuring a queer, Black, Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father.

Talks

  • Who’s Your Daddy: Writing Collectively Through Personal Absence

Learn about the seven-year writing journey that started during White’s “Jesus Year” when her mother asked, “Do you want to write your father in Guyana?” Unsure what to say, White began penning epistolary poems addressed to her father. The poems and prose became documents of her daily life, citations from books, quotations from artists and cultural thinkers, song lyrics, and reflections on White’s spiritual condition. Feeling that this question of fatherhood wasn’t something she wanted to tackle alone, she hosted a call for submissions and community epistolary workshops for participants to write personal letters to distance, absent, or dead fathers, and patriarchal figures. The common themes of abandonment inspired White to write a poetic memoir that gives healing attention to the absences that shape our lives.