Thursday, April 21, 2011

Here’s to those who’ve died in the name of love, for the right to love, and the lovers they left behind.

An interview excerpt with Audre Lorde:

Claudia Tate: I am frequently jarred by my sometimes unconscious attempt to identify the sex of the person addressed in the poem. Since I associate the speaker’s voice with you, and since I’m not always conscious that you are a lesbian, the jarring occurs when I realize the object of affection is likewise a woman. I’m certain this disturbance originates in how society defines love in terms of heterosexuality. So if we are to see love as a “universal” concept, society pressures us to see it as heterosexual.

Audre Lorde: Yes, we’re supposed to see “universal” love as heterosexual. What I insist upon in my work is that there is no such thing as universal love in literature. There is this love in this poem. The poem happens when I, Audre Lorde, poet, deal with the particular instead of the “UNIVERSAL.” My power as a person, as a poet, comes from who I am. I am a particular person. The relationships I have had, in which people kept me alive, helped sustain me, were sustained by me, were particular relationships. They help give me my particular identity, which is the source of my energy. Not to deal with my life in my art is to cut out the fount of my strength.

… Women have been taught to suspect the erotic urge, the place that is uniquely female. So, just as we tend to reject our blackness because it has been termed inferior, as women we tend to reject our capacity for feeling, our ability to love, to touch the erotic, because it has been devalued. But it is within this that lies so much of our power, our ability to posit, our vision. Because once we know how deeply we can feel, we begin to demand from all of our life pursuits that they be in accordance with these feelings… .

I believe in the erotic and I believe in it as an enlightening force within our lives as women. I have become clearer about the distinctions between the erotic and other apparently similar forces. We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way. And when I say living I mean it as that force which moves us toward what will accomplish real positive change.

“Audre Lorde.” Black Women Writers at Work. Ed. Claudia Tate. NY: Continuum, 1983. 100-16.

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