[WHITE] is a book born from obsession. This debut collection of poetry from Trevor Ketner follows two paths of obsession, laying them over one another to tease out a critique of whiteness in the arts that reflects on how we think of whiteness in America. Throughout, Ketner curates a landscape that is part [auto] biography and part political synthesis.
Ketner’s work takes inspiration from seeing a retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) seven times and from teaching themselves to read tarot in two weeks. [WHITE] is a kind of combine or collage of two projects that speak to and against each other and, in their juxtaposition, become an entirely different third thing. As we follow the life of Rauschenberg, so too do we follow the journey of the fool through the major arcana of the tarot moving forward into understanding. Here is an examination of queer bodies, Rauschenberg traveling toward, through, and away from infamous lovers in pursuit of art and selfhood, eventually finding himself in “the January water / of a lake nearby / called Eden.” Meanwhile, Ketner exposes the insidiousness of whiteness and its inescapable role in American history and art.