Who's Your Daddy
March 1, 2021
Poetry / Memoir / New Adult
138 pages, ISBN: 9781936767618
A lyrical, genre-bending coming-of-age 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.
"This beautifully, honestly conceived genius of a book shook me to the core.”
"What she gives us are archives, allegories, and wholly new songs.”
“In these crisply narrative poems, which unreel like heart-wrenching fragments of film, Arisa White not only names that gaping chasm between father and daughter, but graces it with its true and terrible face."
“Arisa White channels the ear of Zora Neale Hurston, the tongue of Toni Cade Bambara, and the eye of Alice Walker in the wondrous Who’s Your Daddy. She channels Guyanese proverbs, Shango dreams, games of hide and seek, and memories of an absentee father to shape the spiritual condition. What she makes is “a maze that bobs and weaves a new style whenever there’s a demand to love.” What she gives us are archives, allegories, and wholly new songs.”
“In these crisply narrative poems, which unreel like heart-wrenching fragments of film, Arisa White not only names that gaping chasm between father and daughter, but graces it with its true and terrible face. Every little colored girl who has craved the constant of her father’s gaze will recognize this quest, which the poet undertakes with lyric that is tender and unerring.”
“Somewhere nearing its end, Arisa White says of Who’s Your Daddy, it’s “a portrait of absence and presence, a story, a tale, told in patchwork fashion . . .” This exactly says what Who’s Your Daddy is, though it doesn’t say all it takes to do justice to the mythic paradox an absent parent guarantees a child, young or grown, or what it takes to live with and undergo such birthright. There’s not only a father’s absence and presence, there’s a mother who says “you raise your daughters, and love your sons,” there are stepfathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, a grandmother, brothers, lovers, all of whom leave their marks and give and take love. Surrounding the whole book hovers the questions do I forgive him, and is forgiveness possible? This beautifully, honestly conceived genius of a book shook me to the core.”
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College. She is the author of four books, including the poetry collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, and coauthor of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, winner of the Maine Literary Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Middle- Grade Nonfiction. She serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press. Find her at arisawhite.com. (Photo: Nye' Lyn Tho)
Foglifter: Watch or read the full interview.
Emzi.Reads, Instagram: "White's psychological insights about absence, loss, love, and identity are powerful, perhaps in part because they are poetically framed and succinctly put. She does not overanalyze, but boils each question down to its core."
The Rumpus, Exclusive Cover Reveal for Who's Your Daddy: "In many ways, I thought going to Guyana was the culmination of this project. I’ve fulfilled my grant obligations; now I can rest. However, in that rest, Ogunyemi’s voice continued to seed ideas. By reading genre-bending work like Alexis De Veaux’s Yabo, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Spill, M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong!, and Emerson Whitney’s Ghost Box, I started to imagine nuanced ways I could write Who’s Your Daddy and center the poetic in everything—it is poetic movement and its disobedience to causality that allowed me to move through space and time and affectively represent how I respond to the question of, who is your daddy?"
A Conversation with Kate Angus: "I was crafting a father’s absence and poetry was the best way to language the glimpses, the unseen: it offered freedom from cause-and-effect. Memory happens like poetry to me. It emphasizes the image and its emotional resonance and it leaps and associates, making metaphors to form connections. Because I was trying to connect with what was gone, to what was driving my unconscious behaviors, what was shaping my fears, and connect to what I was grieving. Poetry and the lyric gave me the space to explore and find my way to my father."
A Conversation with Kathleen Kelly: "One of the ways Who’s Your Daddy came to be was from a series of community writing workshops I facilitated in the San Francisco Bay Area. I held space for people to write letters to their estranged, absent, and dead fathers and patriarchal figures. Through a call for submissions, and by way of these workshops, folks could exchange their letter with me for a chapbook of epistolary poems that I addressed to my father. Reading their letters were humbling—we all shared similar stories, we all seem to have the same father. We were all working through similar personal problems and doubts. Recognizing that I’m not alone decentralizes the I, makes it less self-centered, which can be the downfall to any memoir, and more intersectional. When writing from a place of connectivity, interconnectedness, from a healed wound, the writing itself will be an extension of the ways that you are whole."
Arisa White is available for Zoom appearances for book clubs and in those classrooms teaching her book. Discounts for paperback and ebook copies of Who's Your Daddy are available by contacting Augury Books directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to download promotional materials, which include an Interview with Arisa White.