On page 388 of the class’s anthology there is a work by Audre Lorde entitled “Power. ” What interests me about this work is how Lorde expressed her poem(s) with a meaningful purpose; she expresses and explores pride, love anger, fear, racial and sexual oppression, urban neglect and personal survival. In connection, the question that I want to research is, where does Audre Lorde get her inspiration to write? Audre Lorde a self-styled black, lesbian, warrior, poet; dedicated her life to addressing the injustices of racism, sexism and homophobia.
She had a creative talent of confronting these issues through her writing. Audre writes poetry, essays and autobiographies, she has a great impact on American and African-American literature, feminist theory, and gender studies. Audre, whose original name was Audrey Geraldine Lorde; at the age of four she learned how to talk while she learned to read. Audre’s mother taught her to write and during that time Audre dislike the way her name was spelled, she didn’t like the tail of the “Y’ hanging down below the line, so she would omit it; she loved the evenness of Audre Lorde.
This inspired Audre to write a part autobiography and part revisionary myth called Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. I loved the way she opens with a beautiful question of spiritual and intellectual indebtedness, “To whom do I owe the power behind my voice, what strength I have become, yeasting up like sudden blood from under the bruised skin’s blister? ” Zami tells the story of- as Audre said it “coming out blackened and whole,” in the story she expresses her identity as a fierce black lesbian woman, she talks about becoming a loving woman, a poet, a creator of self-authored words and perceptions.
In Lodre’s words “Zami” is a “biomythography” which is combining history, biography, and myth. She also focuses on her developing lesbian identity and her response to racism in the white feminist and gay communities, and to sexism and homophobia in the African American community. The elements that make the book so good are its personal honesty and lack of cockiness, characteristics that shine through her writing. When reading about her experiences and her life story she shows an exquisite imagery, she talks about her West Indian
heritage and its shows in her pictures and use of words. In Lorde’s poem “Power” she uses her poetic prose to express her feelings of anger and fury over an unfortunate incident that happened in New York City in the late 1970’s. She expresses her outrage and disgust at a racist society that allowed a child’s death to be buried with no true justice. Growing up in Harlem Lorde understood the difficulties that people encountered when race was involved. In “Power” it seems like she is trying to use her poetic gift to stand up for these racial injustices and try to make a difference.
She wanted to be heard, instead of just using rhetoric and the use of effective writing, it was like she was searching for the “power” she has as an African-American woman poet, to make people hear and really think about racial injustices. “Power” is a poem that has two different levels of meanings, literal and nonliteral. Literal because the narrative poem is literally about Clifford Glover, a ten year old African- American boy from Queens who was shot by a Caucasian police officer that was acquitted by a jury.
Nonliteral, because it has a more poetic intent; Audre’s reaction and feelings of fury and disgust over that incident. She mixes this racial injustice with her own furious and unsatisfied feelings in this piece. When reading this poem I had to reread it a few times so I could really understand the emotions and meanings in each stanza. The first two stanzas are about Lorde’s feelings and images she sees due to this violent tragedy; she expresses her natural woman instinct that children must come first in a blunt and short poetic verse.
The third stanza tells the story of Clifford Glover’s death and the proof of the racial insensitivity displayed by the police officer. The fourth stanza talks about the trial of the officer and the jury that granted him an acquittal. It was a jury made of mostly white men and one African- American woman. The last stanza goes back to Lorde’s feelings about the injustice that the boy received and her fury over it. She shares her thoughts of what awful acts she might perform if she doesn’t use her own power as an African- American woman with a poetic gift to find the difference in poetry and rhetoric.
When Lorde heard the verdict she was so furious about the incident she thought she was going to drive her car into a wall, so she had to pull over and jot down her thoughts, which inspired her to write this poem. In conclusion the answer to my question is that Audre Lorde gets her inspiration to write from her personal life experiences, the wrongs that are being done around the world and the injusticeness that occurs till this day in our society. She feels the need to express her thoughts so that other people around can actually open their eyes to see what’s really going on in the world.
I like that Lorde wasn’t afraid of what people may have thought about her writing as long as she expressed what she felt was right and honest. Anatol, Gisele Liza. “Border Crossings in Audre Lorde’s Zami: Triangular Linkage of Identity and Desire. ” MaComere: Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars 4 (2001): 130-41. Landy, Alice. The Heath Introduction to Literature sixth Ed. Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Print The Lorde Compendium: Essay, Speeches, and Journals, introduction by Alice Walker, Pandora (London), 1996.
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