In Their Own Words

Allison Benis White on “The Track”

The Track

Of course it is the absence
that is so beautiful.

Human or animal, the snow
will fall and cover her

Maybe each word
is a footprint filling up
with snow.

I was here, meaning
I am disappearing.

From The Wendys (Four Way Books, 2020). Reprinted with the permission of the author and Four Way Books.

On "The Track"

It’s difficult to discuss the genesis of “The Track” without discussing the nature of The Wendys (Four Way Books, 2020), a book with five sections, each devoted to a different Wendy: Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of the Plasmatics; contemporary photographer Wendy Given; Wendy Torrance from The Shining; Wendy Coffield, the first located victim of the Green River Killer; and Peter Pan’s Wendy Darling.


The looming, private “Wendy” in this book is my mother, Wendy (who disappeared when I was a baby)—the book is in memory of her, and works to explore the chronic longing for and grieving of the absent mother, the absent beloved, in a world where women are the victims of domestic abuse and shattering violence.


“The Track” is the inaugural poem from the Wendy Given section of the book, which meditates on a series of her photographs of landscapes in search of a singular human presence. Here is the epigraph to the Given section, which is a description of her photographic series from her website: “One can begin to imagine so many possibilities as to what befell this sleeping, injured, or dead character as she made her way through the woods at night.”


Mallarme said “the intersection, the crossing of the unexpected with the known” is what creates meaning in a poem. In this way, writing ekphrastically is always useful, as it allows me to cross my mind with another’s, and somehow, in that intersection or double-seeing, the poem’s heat emerges.

More In Their Own Words

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“A Longed-For, Which I Enter Gratefully” arrived in tandem while visiting NYC, a trip familiar with beloveds and the chance to read poems, talk shit, laugh, and be quiet. It receives its title from a phrase in Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider essay “Uses of the Erotic, The Erotic As Power.”

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Jessica Q. Stark on “Explanatory note”

“Explanatory note” was one of the last additions to Savage Pageant, a hybrid poetry book that centers (in part) on a defunct zoo called Jungleland. In the book, I juxtapose poems about my first pregnancy and my own terror of bringing a child into this world with the chronology of California landownership, Hollywood gossip and concealed information, a zoo and its zookeepers, and a history of ecological violence nearby

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