"Your silence will not protect you" – Audre LordeIt's been the same every time I begin a new series of works on paper. Half-blind, I feel my way around the edges of the dense thicket of ideas I have, trying to make sense of what at first appears to be an impenetrable tangle. To help, I read a lot, both online and off, not for information but for something less specific – an emotional or psychological node that resonates strongly enough to prompt me to start painting.
I've been browsing poems by several black women, including the late Audre Lord. The daughter of Caribbean immigrants who settled in New York in the '30s, she described herself as "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet", and argued powerfully for a feminist movement conscious of both race and class. "I am defined as other in every group I'm part of," she once observed. "The outsider, both strength and weakness. Yet without community there is certainly no liberation, no future, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between me and my oppression."Who Said It Was SimpleThere 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 colour
as well as sexand sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.