Book Review: I Made a Place for You
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A quiet, artful collection to hold deep inside
Poetry can do anything. It can whisper, it can teach, it can tell stories, it can show you images you’ve never dreamed of; it is all-encompassing. I Made a Place for You by Damian White is a grouping of short poems interspersed with surreal visual art that emits the feeling of connectedness despite a world burning and melting around us.
White infuses an open-arms spirituality with questions and realizations that surprise with each cascading verse. The poems are short and the lines are short, and they fall down the page with purpose, so the book is easy to read and flip through while finding your way to healing.
The pairing of White and illustrator Francesco Orazzini is a special one. The poems can be direct or subtle, quiet or quieter, and the same goes for the illustrations beside or before each poem. You can get lost looking at these things, trying to piece together what it is you’re searching for. In the illustrations, the characters are bird-like figures, and the landscape is almost always melting or burning, and most often they are connected to the conversation of the poem on the other page.
If you’ve got I Made a Place for You on your coffee table or bedside table, it’s going to prove extremely browsable. Pick it up and flip through it and spend time with a couple of artists who spent careful time curating and connecting things they care deeply about.
Themes include human interconnectedness, religion (specifically Christianity), depression, and a search for healing. Some particular favorites include “Post Mortem,” “We Locked Eyes,” and “Good Mourning,” but I really could keep going. There are a number of poems in here that surprise with each new line and leave us with a lingering introspective feeling that didn’t exist before.
There may be a few pieces herein where singular lines distract from the subtlety of otherwise effective poems, but, with careful introspection like this, it simultaneously becomes clear that White is bringing direct attention to those ideas (like depression and God) that he believes should be loudest in the sea of quietude.
This is a lovely collection of poetry, and for me, it was a really cool way to spend two hours on a train. It’s even been a pleasure revisiting White & Orazzini’s collaborations in the creation of this review, as all I need to do to get back into the thought is to see the artful page. Very rarely are there long lines and stanzas, but when there are, they’re done with purpose and economy of language. Those who are particularly drawn to interconnectedness and God would be wise to give I Made a Place for You a shot.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Print Length: 58 pages
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