Gabriel Gomez of Local iQ reviews Bone Light

The work of the poet is one of reassessment: it's a continual look at the intricacies and minutiae of a world outfitted with a voluminous gadgetry of words. Poems, at best, are samplings of larger pieces of a broad experience. They reveal the urge to speak with an authoritative voice through the systems of language. Orlando White's debut book of poetry, Bone Light, delves beyond instinct and intellect, utterance and music, letters and numbers. It is poetry that scrutinizes language and syntax with ginger strokes of forceful questioning.

The tone of the book is established in the first poem, "Everything I write requires this: Alphabet."

White situates his poems squarely between the breaches of narrative and its decisive uses, and a fractured landscape of words and lines. What follows through the remaining 32 poems is a book that explores –at times riffles–the poet's own boundaries as a writer.

Throughout Bone Light there are consistent literal and figurative "skeletal" allusions and references to bones transforming into language itself, establishing an expository source for the poems. Thematically, these images anchor the reader to the poems that are markedly individual, both in style and content, but fit it well as a series. What edges on the repetitive, perhaps slight overuse of such imagery, is ultimately curved by a tenacious exploration of subject that consequentially leads to each poem starting the conversation anew. Poems such as "From Skin to Bone," "Skeleton" and "Blank Skull," reiterate the relevance of the passage of time and memory as a way of shaping and reconciling the past.

'Sentence," a poem that includes lines, "Letters can appear as bones," followed by the parenthetical, "Do not forget the image," and the conclusion, "If you write with calcium," introduces the reader to White's spare lines and playfully applied syntax, while never straying too far into abstraction. This and other poems, including a series of five that explore and meditate on the letters "i" and "j," suggest that the disjointed line allow for a closer representation of its subject rather than more laborious sentences that are tirelessly shaped into grammatical sense. In other words, the poems of Bone Light are un-forced and un-patterned. They are stylistically risky and refreshingly non-committal to form and tradition, but engage the reader fully.

Ultimately, Bone Light is a map of the poet's life, where the entireties of White's experiences are revealed at once. It is a body filled with nuance, discovery and movement. Its poems are challenging, void or irrelevant obscurities and remain welcoming throughout their remarkable approach.

By Gabriel Gomez, Local iQ Vol. 4 Iss. 9

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