Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Audre

Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was born today in New York City in 1924. She worked in a series of low-paying jobs between high-school and her eventual attendance at college, earning a BA in literature and philosophy from Hunter in 1959 and an MLS from Columbia University in 1960. Being gay, she was unable to find a home in the Harlem Writers Guild - being gay and black and a woman, she was an outsider in many ways, and her collection of essays "Sister Outsider" is widely acclaimed and taught. Here are two of her poems.

Who said it was simple?

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.


Hanging Fire

I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his tumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before the morning comes
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I de before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth aout me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.

Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed.

(more poems and info on Audre Lorde here)

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