Scratching for Something is a collection of magical realist prose poems that depict physical transformations caused by deep inner turmoil. The collection contains 46 vignettes with images such as: a woman who coughs up her soul and stores it in a jar; a man whose head sprouts a crown of phalluses; a girl with centipede legs rippling along the front of her body; a boy with a canary’s voice, and a song so intense it breaks the earth open. The book began with The New York Press project (see below).
The collection received a marvelous blurb from one of my writing heroes:
“Kim White’s first book, Scratching for Something, is a collection of interlocking prose poems that work both singly and as a whole with wonderful ease, combining a rich surface with a variety of undercurrents that ebb and flow, thematically and stylistically. The prose-poem is a rare–not quite lost–art form and in Ms. White’s hands we find opportunity to hope that a new generation of American writers will take the chances required to make it their own and plumb its depths. This is a fine and rewarding debut.”
–Nicolas Christopher, Author of Veronica
About the print edition
Scratching for Something was first published in 1998 by the Columbia University Creative Writing Center. Its publication was made possible by a generous grant from the Forbes Foundation.
About the digital edition
A digital edition is currently available for Kindle.
The New York Press Project
Scratching for Something began as a series of prose poems published anonymously on the back page of The New York Press, a free weekly paper that enjoyed a large readership in the late 1990’s. I read it every day on my way to work, and became interested in the back page classified ads. They were a mix of small business and personal ads that offered help with: eating disorders, overcoming abuse, finding a sexual partner, removing unwanted hair, fortune telling, etc… Their heartbreaking tone captured my attention. At the time, I was working on a series of magical realist prose poems that imagined what particular character flaws or states of mind would look like if they manifested as physical traits. With each miniature narrative, I was attempting to depict creatures whose flaws and yearnings transformed them into something magical. The back page of the New York Press seemed like the natural habitat for these poems. I published a series of poems anonymously. Below are photographs of the published works. One of the readers following my work took out an ad in response.