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Daughter Contributes to New Book Celebrating Legacy of Audre Lorde

By Harriet Staff


The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde is written by Dr. Gloria Joseph in “Griot style”–a Western African oral tradition of storytelling that brings together a range of voices–and it “chronicles the beauty and wisdom that was lesbian feminist writer Audre Lorde,” as The Advocate has it. Yesterday, they published an excerpt. From her daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins:

…I’d never read my mother’s work, though I loved poetry. My Mom’s books were all over our house. I’d been in her office, filing her correspondence, while she fought with her editors at Norton about the artwork for Coal; I’d heard her and Frances talking about how the Between Ourselves book should be handled — the publisher wanted the poems to run contiguously, and my Mom was adamant that each needed its own page. So it wasn’t like I didn’t know my Mom was a poet. It was the first thing she said when she talked about her work — but I thought of her as my Mom, who had a job as a teacher so that she could get the summers off to be with us, and who also loved and wrote poetry. When I was having problems with math, she quoted “Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty Bare” as I sat in the living room crying over my graphs and rays; when I was in extremis over junior high girls teasing me, she looked at me over the top of her glasses and recited:

“I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!”

Poetry was part of who my Mom was, and it was part of the mother she was, too. She cuddled intensely; she cooked and fed us intensely; and yes, she got pissed intensely. But I had never met the lesbian feminist icon, Audre Lorde. I had seen her hammer out actions and position statements with Beresford Jones at John Jay in the summer of 1970, but I had never read the words of Audre Lorde, revolutionary poet. And I had seen how she and Frances looked at each other, danced in the kitchen sometimes when they thought we weren’t paying attention, and kissed — I knew they loved each other — but I had never read the words chronicling their courtship, their love, and their struggles until I stood in Diane DiPrima’s hallway, picked up “Cables to Rage,” and began to read even before I hit the bathroom.

Read it all at The Advocate.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, February 26th, 2016 by Harriet Staff.