Petra White comes from English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and is the eldest of six children. She has been interested in writing since early childhood and began writing in earnest (attempting a novel) after graduating from high school. In 1998 White moved to Melbourne and began to focus seriously on poetry. She completed a BA with honours in English and a major in German literature at Melbourne University.
In 2002 White studied at Essen University, as well as travelling throughout Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. She has a particular interest in the study of the Irish poet Medbh McGuckian. White has worked part-time as an editor and tutor.
'Like Petra White’s applauded first collection, her second begins and ends with a fable of the uncanny ordinary. Between is a cornucopia of odes: epistolary, philosophical, elegiac. These poems think through and honour the normal mysteries of fate.
'Her world is large and contemporary, anchored by a young poet’s own memories. White inhabits her poems lightly, using personal experience with wit and without self-pleading. Some of this work shows the shadow of depression: not so much expressing moods as touching on how depression dwells, finding its register so it can speak.
'A number of poems openly engage with notable depressives of literary history, but we don’t need those homages to realise that this poet is a very capacious reader. It is there in her music. Late Lowell and Bishop, along with Harwood, ghost the swift edge in her language. Beyond these, a large tradition of cadences and tropes is absorbed in her fluent free verse lines.'