Audre Lorde American Literature Analysis
As a young girl, Lorde expressed nearly all of her daily conversation by quoting poetry she had memorized. As she began to grow up, however, she realized that there were no poems that addressed many of her feelings and experiences as a black feminist lesbian. She felt “totally alienated, disoriented, crazy.” Thus, Lorde began writing to fill her own needs. She said that she wrote for herself, for her children, and for those women who do not speak because they have been silenced or because they have been taught to respect fear more than they respect themselves. Lorde wrote, often militantly, always expressively, of racism, sexism, homophobia, love, and pain as well as on political, social, and environmental issues. Critic Jerome Brooks has discerned three central themes in Lorde’s work: the issue of power, her quest for love, and her commitment to intellectual and moral clarity about so-called familiar things.
Lorde’s discussion of the existence and use of power is not limited to an examination of the power of words, a theme she uses frequently; it also includes explorations of black versus white, female versus male, child versus mother, the disadvantaged versus bureaucratic institutions, patients versus the medical establishment, and smaller nations versus the United States.
Lorde’s poem “Coal” (1976) is, on the surface, a study of the power of a word, of “how sound comes into a word, colored/ by who pays what for speaking.”...
(The entire section is 2325 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Audre Lorde Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!