White/Other by Fran Lock

White/Other is a collection that defies boundaries, made up of prose-poetry-manifesto-essay pieces that explore the treatment of those who are white working class “other” in society, combining personal and cultural essay fragments with discussions of the purpose and history of language and who is allowed what language.

Language is the thing that jumps out the most from the collection: repetition, fragmentation, and the importance and slippiness of meaning. The title itself sets this up, with a question that is returned to again and again: what does “white, other” truly mean in the categories of neoliberal society and how does that materially impact people’s lives? The lyrical prose that makes up a lot of the collection plays with language as it asks which words are allowed and how much which words are used matters. At the same time, there’s plenty of consideration of class and politics, because it isn’t just systems of language that are questioned and attacked.

There’s a lot in White/Other as it moves between topics and thoughts, an angry trove that uses poetry to ask what can be represented in poetry and whose voices can be heard. I enjoyed the fragmentary style that flows between ideas and the repetition and echoes that make powerful points about how people are perceived and represented.