James L. White was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 26, 1936. From the age of 16 he received training in classical ballet. He was later awarded a scholarship to the American Ballet Theater in New York City, and while serving in the U.S. Army in West Germany he danced for the State Ballet in Karlsruhe. White obtained undergraduate degrees from Indiana University and Colorado State University, and an MA in Literary Criticism from the latter.
For three years in the 1960's, White worked as a poet-teacher with the Navajo in the American Southwest, where he created and directed the Navajo Folk Art Theater. In 1971, he relocated to Minnesota to serve as the Director of the Native American Project of the Poets in the Schools Program, and he later taught in the Writers in Schools Program sponsored by COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts and Sciences). While teaching he collected and edited Time of the Indian (1976), contemporary poetry written by Native American children, and First Skin Around Me (1976), an anthology of American Indian writings. During the late 1970's, he worked with Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School for the Disembodied Poetics, at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
In addition to anthologies of Native American writings, White published three anthologies of his own works during his lifetime: Divorce Proceedings (1972), Crow's Story of Deer (1974), and Del Rio Hotel (1975). In 1978, the Bush Foundation awarded him a Literature Fellowship that enabled him to complete his final anthology, The Salt Ecstasies, published posthumously in 1982. White's works were also published in The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Ironwood, The Ohio Review, Kansas Quarterly, Sonora Review, and Prairie Schooner.
White died of heart disease at his home in Minneapolis, in July 1981, at the age of 45.
James White Review, 1, no. 1, 1983, 3.
"James White Review Visits Madison." Out! 1987, 3.
James L. White Papers, Coll2006-003, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
James White Review Association Records, Coll2006-004, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Willkie, Phil and Kevin Burke. "Jim, His Friends and the Heaven-Cafeteria." James White Review, no. 1, 1983, 3.