Songs for Solo Voice
Winner of the Red Mountain Poetry Prize.
“Songs for Solo Voice reminds us, “when it comes to loss/none of us is immune.” Here the particular loss is the end of an affair, a searing wound that takes a long time to heal, if ever, a theme almost as old as lyric poetry itself which Whitley, like a modern-day Petrarch, revives in his own striking, sardonic, and inimitable way. If “the music of never forgetting her” has become “the score of the rest of his life” so be it: he may write about loss as much as he needs to, while I, liking his work enormously, somehow feel joy.” –Alan Feldman
“The poems in Songs for Solo Voice are full of beauty. And also allusion. Phrases from the works of Emily Dickinson, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Butler Yeats, Buck Owens, and even Mazzy Star show up in these poems. And yet, despite all these allusions, Whitley manages to hold onto the personal expressions of desire, of loss, of love that define lyric poetry. This book is a welcome reminder of poetry’s often overlooked power to show us that even our most personal emotions have a collective vocabulary.” –Juliana Spahr
“What guides this collection is the primal need for the beloved whose presence once sustained, as now the absence of whom devastates. What survives though, lucky for us as readers, are these poems. Whitley’s tightly wrought diction, lush images, and sharp turns-of-phrase are what restore us from loss.” –Shara McCallum