Peril As Architectural Enrichment by Hazel White
Kelsey Street Press, 2011
96 pp., Paperback
By Terrel Adams
Hazel White’s Peril As Architectural Enrichment is a structural marvel; a complex and compelling edifice that propelled me out of trees and into skies. White’s voice leads the eyes in a dance with gravity and nature. She has a way of illustrating the presence of each word, considering the impact of each expression in a delightfully multiplex manner. This collection of experimental work creates a diversity of worlds in both a literal and spatial sense. White’s poems are a universe in which the meaning of every word is a building block for the next.
The first installment of the book, “Truant”, is an introduction to White’s verbal arrangements. It moved, as its title suggests, in a wandering motion, enthralling me with a stunt-girl and steeple. The poems compellingly allowed me to be “not too inevitably propelled forward” into an unbuilt garden. Then, through the experiences of a pollen carrier, I witnessed flowers perform frightening feats:
swallows a quarrel-
drop between petals like a seamstress into fabric, through
organic pleats of unending enclosure.
Go down and on. Allow invisibility.
I landed in a reflection garden, where space is as momentous as any exclamation. In this section White worked her words so that they welcomed me into a scene where the forest swallows the sky, where “one space opens thoroughly to another.” These spaces allowed me to drift according to White’s exploitation of gravitational pull, lulling me into “Gravity Ignobly”.
Here I was yanked down through lands that crack, while a tree destroyed its own foundations. The pages in this section bloom with vivid glimpses of natural imagery. This is the means by which White drew me in, “Gathering-in-at-great-speed:…because beauty has forward momentum”. The works in “Gravity, Ignobly” revealed to me the ultimate goal: the bird marsh, and a final mandate to build.
Peril As Architectural Enrichment utilized my perception as a tool, my pre-conceived notions of space and matter a catalyst, boosting me into a poetry narrative that details a familiar yet unknown world. Any understanding of my own physicality was challenged, as the work caused me to consider my own presence’s effect on that which surrounds me. The pieces in the work explore fear and its relation to habit, habit’s relation to writing, and writing’s power over fear. The poems aided me in conquering the crippling comfort of gravity while traveling through its pages; White’s voice made it so that I was willing to submit myself to danger, heeding the guidance of the narrator through disorienting pieces of time, space, and growth.