Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who Said It Was Simple?

"Your silence will not protect you"
– Audre Lorde
It'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 Simple
There 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 sex
and sit here wondering

which me will survive

all these liberations.


Shannon said...

I love her poetry. Lately I've been reading a lot of Nikki Giovanni.

Martha A. Wade said...


Ashley Handlin said...

this work of yours has given me new insight to the human body.. if you look without focusing your eyes much, the shape of the butt and the thighs, at least in the way you drew them, makes a nearly perfect heart. im pretty sure it was unintentional but it made me really happy. perhaps you subconsciously love butts?

Anonymous said...

Oh Hazel, you slay me! This is Black Lily (of Society Hae) speaking....I'm 2nd gen Caribbean (my mum from St. Vincent). Remind me to tell you one day, the story of Caribbean "Hazel".

Audre Lorde one of my favourite poets. Her poem, "For Each of You"...SAVED MY LIFE. Not kidding. I think it's the reason I'm still on this planet. I read it over thousands of times in high school and college, when I was going through the blackest moments of my journey here. I held onto the words, "for each of you/learn to cherish that boisterous black angel/that drives you up one day and down another/when you are hungry/ learn to eat whatever sustains not be misled by details simply because you live them. Who else are you reading? Have you checked Kate Rushin's work?? Amazing. Read "The Tired Poem". Also, Sapphire and Ntozake Shange's 'for colored girls who have considered suicide' feed my soul.