Audre Lorde

That unnoticed & that necessary

On the reproductive labor of self-effacement

Inscription inside my copy of Tell Me A Riddle

One thing I really admire about women is that we’re able to put up with a lot of shit while still smiling. That takes a lot of discipline and strength. But we all have our limits, and sometimes we have to learn how to tell the shit to fuck off. Tillie Olsen’s 1978 book on Silences keeps coming up in conversation lately. The chapters explore various kinds of silences in literature, with references to Rebecca Harding Davis, Thomas Hardy, Willa Cather, Jean Toomer, Charles Baudelaire. Olsen’s book argues how a writer’s circumstances, as produced by society’s delineations of race, class and gender, can stifle creative expression.

One thing I really admire about women is that we’re able to put up with a lot of shit while still smiling. That takes a lot of discipline and strength. But we all have our limits, and sometimes we have to learn how to tell the shit to fuck off.

Tillie Olsen’s 1978 book on Silences keeps coming up in conversation lately. The chapters explore various kinds of silences in literature, with references to Rebecca Harding Davis, Thomas Hardy, Willa Cather, Jean Toomer, Charles Baudelaire. Olsen’s book argues how a writer’s circumstances, as produced by society’s delineations of race, class and gender, can stifle creative expression. Silences is best-known for its attention to gender. A consecutive sequence of chapters bear the titles: “The Damnation of Women,” “The Angel in the House,” “Freeing the Essential Angel,” and “Wives Mothers Enablers.” 

Are you a mother? Do you know a mother? Are you the child of a mother? Then you should probably read this book.

Move from that distance to intimacy

On Rickey Laurentiis’ “I Saw I Dreamt Two Men” and empathy

“Disembodiment is a kind of terrorism, and the threat of it alters the orbit of all our lives and, like terrorism, this distortion is intentional,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates. In Between the World and Me, Coates illustrates how disembodiment is both the catalyst and conclusion of racist acts; he writes to his son that America’s history of racism against its black citizens, including the figuring of these citizens as black in opposition to a white ruling class, means “first and foremost, to deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies.”

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One of the most powerful poems I read last year is Rickey Laurentiis’s “I Saw I Dreamt Two Men,” and after having it running in the back of my head for months, I think I am starting to see how the poem responds to the terrorism of disembodiment, and how it asks its reader: And you? How does your body belong to, or participate in, this body politic?

A field of the invisible

A review of Christina Olivares's 'No Map of the Earth Includes Stars'

Images courtesy of Marsh Hawk Press and Christina Olivares.

“Burnt Code,” the opening poem of Christina Olivares’s debut collection, No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, startles in the intimacy of its address: “You devote years to / listening to, interpreting, misinterpreting code.”[1] Here, Olivares’s speaker addresses her father, who is losing himself to schizophrenia. In a long series of poems in the book’s first section, “Petition,” her speaker imparts her memories, recent and long past, and those of her father, to whom the poems adhere in ways he cannot adhere to his own life.

Not safe for porn

The erotic vs. the pornographic

Not this blue.

Audre Lorde’s essay “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” constitutes pages 53-59 in my edition of Sister Outsider. The paperback is a distinctive blue; it’s the kind of bright, medium blue you see in kindergarten posters or picture books about colors. It’s a color that always gestures: this is “Blue.” This is the color of instruction. I can always immediately locate my Sister Outsider, whether on my bookshelf or among the Jenga-like stacks of books on my floor, because of its blue.

Audre Lorde’s essay “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” constitutes pages 53-59 in my edition of Sister Outsider. The paperback is a distinctive blue; it’s the kind of bright, medium blue you see in kindergarten posters or picture books about colors. It’s a color that always gestures: this is “Blue.” This is the color of instruction. I can always immediately locate my Sister Outsider, whether on my bookshelf or among the Jenga-like stacks of books on my floor, because of its blue.

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