Arisa White

A Penny Saved

A Penny Saved by Arisa White
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fiction Fiction, Religion
For readers of:Carolyn Forche, Ai, Yusef Komunyakaa, Toni Morrison, Mary Oliver
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Print Length94
PublisherWillow Books/Aquarius Press
Publication DateNovember 2012
About the Book

A Penny Saved is the second volume of poetry from award-winning poet Arisa White, published by Willow Books. It reimagines the true story of Polly Mitchell, who was held captive in her home for 10 years.

Poetically/fictitiously reinvented and renamed Penny, the book’s protagonist is held in her home for 12 years. The collection is arranged in three sections. In each, Penny’s voice is juxtaposed with another: we encounter the voice of the House in the opening section; the oldest daughter Elizabeth and her imaginary friend Jewelie in the second; and the third section concludes with the husband’s voice, which is part apology and remorse. Each voice brings to the fore an intimate perspective of Penny’s captivity and abuse and the role of each character/voice within this violence.

While White, whose first book, Hurrah’s Nest—finalist for the 82nd California Book Awards and 2013 NAACP Image Award—acknowledges that she cannot know what Polly Mitchell endured, A Penny Saved reflects White’s attempt to turn over—in her mind and on the page—the interconnected tangle of complicity and abuse.

Polly Mitchell’s doors were literally bolted, her windows nailed shut. White uses Mitchell’s story as a way to investigate the parts we play in enabling violent situations around us and the things we think are necessary to secure our survival and the survival of the ones we love.

Cover art by BEATING HEARTS: Stories of Domestic Violence, a photographic project inspired by true stories of domestic violence documented by Kate Sartor Hilburn and Terrie Queen Autrey of Louisiana.

About the Author

Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the author of the chapbooks Disposition for Shininess and Post Pardon, which has been adapted into an opera. Her full-length collections Hurrah's Nest and A Penny Saved were published in 2012. Her debut collection, Hurrah's Nest, won the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival Award for poetry and was nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Award, the 82nd California Book Awards, and the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards. Member of the PlayGround writers’ pool, her play Frigidare was staged for the 15th Annual Best of PlayGround Festival. One of the founding editors of HER KIND, an online literary community powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Arisa has received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Headlands Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Rose O’Neill Literary House, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a 2013-14 recipient of an Investing in Artist Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, an advisory board member for Flying Object, and a BFA faculty member at Goddard College. Her poetry has been widely published and is featured on the recording WORD with the Jessica Jones Quartet. Arisa is a native New Yorker, living in Oakland, CA, with her wife.

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