The Polite Society by Ross White
Available from the publisher
“Seamlessly the beautiful poems of Ross White’s The Polite Society traverse the page, but then, reading, you are struck by the sense of language as suddenly all the more mysterious—language, that is, as the ultimate system, frighteningly capable of both negotiation and song. If ‘the system’ threatens an all-encompassing politics, which it might, resistance is found in ourselves, our own imaginations. These poems are the proof.”
—Sally Keith, author of River House
“The Polite Society is exactly the kind of work we need to be doing as writers and as human beings. In these gorgeously crafted poems, White examines not only our broken system of government but the systems of thought that broke it—and threaten to break us. He does not flinch, and through his deconstruction of the prejudices we have so politely ignored, White offers the hope of reconstructing a society based on open-eyed understanding.”
—Emma Bolden, author of Maleficae
“In poems both brutal and beautiful, Ross White compels us to confront our numbness, our complacency, and our ‘burden / of guilt.’ In the contexts of colonial history, unchecked police and military forces, and both domestic and global unrest, White’s poems revisit and revise notions of the American dream, shedding a bright light on the high cost of engaging in a ‘civil’ society. All the while, White holds himself, his work, and all of us accountable. His poems point to our shared complicity in the brutalities that mar human interaction, from a troubled father-son relationship to the global forces of imperialism.”
—Dilruba Ahmed, author of Dhaka Dust
What is the spirit of our age, and what are the consequences of that spirit? The Polite Society pursues these questions, urging readers to ignore politics in its infamous, decadent sense and focus instead on how we might still work together to flourish together.
Ross White is the author of the chapbook How We Came Upon the Colony (Unicorn Press, 2014). His work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Poetry Daily, and The Southern Review, among others. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.