Friday, February 18, 2011

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 is one of her poems.

From the House of Yemanj√°

My mother had two faces and a frying pot
where she cooked up her daughters
into girls
before she fixed our dinner.
My mother had two faces
and a broken pot
where she hid out a perfect daughter
who was not me
I am the sun and moon and forever hungry
for her eyes.

I bear two women upon my back
one dark and rich and hidden
in the ivory hungers of the other
mother
pale as a witch
yet steady and familiar
brings me bread and terror
in my sleep
her breasts are huge exciting anchors
in the midnight storm.

All this has been
before
in my mother's bed
time has no sense
I have no brothers
and my sisters are cruel.

Mother I need
mother I need
mother I need your blackness now
as the august earth needs rain.
I am

the sun and moon and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall meet
and not be
one.

(more poems and info on Audre Lorde here)

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