Rochester, NY— BOA Editions will publish Casual Conversation by Renia White as the next Blessing the Boats Selections title. Ms. White will receive a $5,000 honorarium, and her manuscript will be published in April 2022 as part of the New Poets of America Series. Casual Conversation marks the debut selection by inaugural Blessing the Boats Selections Editor-at-Large Aracelis Girmay.
Girmay said of the collection: “I have read Casual Conversation several times now, and still the encounter is new, charged. Renia White writes: ‘some people get to want and need / and be met in it. // some just the mouth, / just the teeth // some eat and they say / “why all the hunger?”’ Casually, brilliantly strange and political. A spaciousness of phrase gives way to compression. Syntax dense then feathery, as switchgrass. The critique is clear and the minds so shiftful, bucking mastery in search of something more quiet and specific and true. This book, I cannot Know it. It is helping me to think. Renia White writes: ‘I wonder what it's like to have a right and believe it...’ And: ‘if you touch me, you'll have touched / a someone: rightly loved and lived for.’ So stunning are her assertions, so understated and searing her indictments, that, it seems to me, she is attending to an axiomatic ground in the pagefield.”
Renia White is a poet originally from Maryland who came of age in Riverdale, GA. She studied at Howard University (BA) and Cornell University (MFA) before teaching writing of different forms. A recipient of a Hurston/Wright College Writers Award, her work has appeared in publications such as Sonora Review, The Offing, Slice, Southern Indiana Review, No, Dear, and elsewhere. She lives and works in New York City.
Named after celebrated poet Lucille Clifton’s National Book Award-winning collection Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000, and in recognition of her enduring legacy, Blessing the Boats Selections spotlights poetry collections by women of color. Blessing the Boats Selections launched in April 2020 with support from a $10,000 grant from the Amazon Literary Partnership Poetry Fund and the Academy of American Poets. Previous Blessing the Boats Selections titles include Year of the Dog by Deborah Paredez (BOA, 2020) and Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes (BOA, 2020). In 2020, BOA received a generous grant from the Lannan Foundation of Santa Fe, NM, which allowed for an increased honorarium and the hiring of an Editor-at-Large to curate Blessing the Boats Selections.
The next open-reading period for the Blessing the Boats Selections will be in December 2021. Submission details are available at boaeditions.org/pages/blessing-the-boats-selections.