I am happy to share this amazing guest blog post from author and poet Arisa White, who is here to share with us some insight into her latest release, “Who’s Your Daddy”. Look for the review of this amazing book soon. Now enjoy this great post from the writer.
In February 2015, in a blog I was keeping to document the writing process of dear Gerald, which later developed into Who’s Your Daddy, I was thinking about the following as I prepared for my trip to Guyana:
Today is the day we hit the air for Guyana.
This week, or maybe it was last week–time just seems to be blending–I was talking to my friend Amber and from the conversation we concluded that I’m going to meet my masculine (my maker). It all seems so biblical at times . . .
But the conversation didn’t stop there: we made some connections to the way that society treats and incarcerate Black men . . . my father has been sent to his homeland as correctional punishment, and the last three dear Gerald letters I’ve received have come from inmates at San Quentin. The letters are so touching and they reflect on the cycle of violence, neglect, and abandonment–and these men recognize that they are not present as fathers for their children.
What happens when our masculine energies are imprisoned, literally and figuratively? What is amped up in our performance of masculinity, what is downplayed? And who/what in the end benefits from all this absence and negative expression?
As a woman, with strong feminine energy, how do I integrate my masculine energy? How do I not imprison that masculine force within in, but allow it to have its freedom of expression, without fear of punishment?
All interesting questions to be felt through . . . .
Now, I understand why the title, Who’s Your Daddy, which was first a tongue-and-cheek placeholder, became the actual title of the book. The whole book project was driven by an interrogative mode—this desire to know my father and understand who I am.
As my publisher, editor, and I decided whether or not to keep the question mark after Who’s Your Daddy, we concluded it was best without it.
The implied question, which I was signaling with my usage of ellipsis in the entry above, continues to ask. And the asking interrogates along different layers of meaning. It lingers in and around you, resonating. So once I was able to personally respond, there was a need to turn outward and question patriarchy and its role in our social and political institutions, how we are governed by what is there and not there, how our consciousness functions around the ways we identify (and often those identities are defined through systems of power). Who’s your daddy is one of those questions that can ripple throughout you, if you allow it.
About the Poet
ARISA WHITE is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, Black Pearl, Perfect on Accident, and “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. Published by Virtual Artists Collective, her debut full-length collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Awards. Her second collection, A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published by Willow Books, an imprint of Aquarius Press in 2012. Her latest full-length collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, was published by Augury Books and nominated for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. Most recently, Arisa co-authored, with Laura Atkins, Biddy Mason Speaks Up, a middle-grade biography in verse on the midwife and philanthropist Bridget “Biddy” Mason, which is the second book in the Fighting for Justice series. She is currently co-editing, with Miah Jeffra and Monique Mero, the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart, which will be published by Foglifter Press in 2021. And forthcoming in February 2021, from Augury Books, her poetic memoir Who’s Your Daddy.