Write Whiter

by Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland

Obviously, it's a category I've been made aware of
from time to time.
It's been pointed out that my characters eat a lot of lightly-braised asparagus
and get FedEx packages almost daily.

Yet I dislike being thought of as a white writer.
I never wanted to be limited like that.

Vhen I find my books in the "White Literature" section of the bookstore,
dismay is what I feel-
I thought I was writing about other, larger things

Tax retunds, Spanish lessons, premature ejaculation;
meatloaf and sitcoms; the fear of perishing.

I know some readers need to see their lives reflected from the page-
It lets them know they aren't alone.

The art it takes to make that kind of comfort
is not something I look upon with scorn.

But after a while, you start to feel like, to the world, white
is all you'll ever be.

And gradually, after all the struggling against,
after tasting your own tear of being

only what you are,
you accept-

Then, with fresh determination, you lean forward again.
You write whiter and whiter.

Last updated February 24, 2023