Howard White says, “Some poets try to capture rare butterflies in their writing. The things I go after are more like houseflies.” The comparison does him no favours but it is true inasmuch as his writing is notably unpretentious and concerned with common and everyday realities. That is, if your everyday realities include such things as sinking docks, driving bulldozers, arguing about sand, baseball, pouring without a funnel, dancing in the street, thought guns, coition, brainfarts, not sending sympathy cards, not shooting your father, and sea otters. In this book he also writes quite a bit about writing, not so much the kind of personal writing he does in this book so much as that he has done as an “accidental chronicler” for “a galaxy of voices” he acted as a “conduit” for in his work as a memoirist and publisher.
It’s hard to read a White poem without cracking a half-smile, and if there is one thing that holds his remarkable mental meandering together it is humour. You can see why they gave him the Leacock Medal: he seems incapable of writing a line that humour doesn’t sneak into.
PRAISE FOR MYSTERIOUS HUMMING NOISE:
“Some might argue that White is a comedian wearing a magician’s cape or a philosopher in logging boots, but these are the times of blurred distinction when stand-up presents as performance poetry and the prose poem defies categorization. There is a straight line between then, when poets were human newspapers running to village to village with the latest information, and now, when tinder is sex and twitter is death. We are all struggling to communicate before the toaster blows up. … These are plain words in a plain wrapper that come in the mail like a sex toy wrapped in recycled paper. This is real poetry; one version of the gospel, and it is received with joy and gratitude because it is life stained with regret.”
—Linda Rogers, The Ormsby Review
PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS POETRY:
“His work is as refreshing, as spirited and melodious as a vibrant April shower. White’s style is always crisp, fresh and ebullient.”
— Vancouver Sun
“Howard White is a pure delight to read.”
— Calgary Herald
“White’s is a major coastal voice… the best of his work is about seeing.”
— Victoria Times-Colonist