It was World Poetry Day yesterday, and I was reflecting on the story of my skin.
Ink on chest, for how I love. On arms, for silent strength. Near hands for hearts I carry. All poetry. All Audre Lorde, Alice Walker and Bassey Ikpi. I write my love right out in the most permanent of ways: whether on flesh, whispered between pages or spoken on stage. I love like that. The chest piece was my second and it says “Poetry is not a luxury.” (I have a tiny, black mole on my chest that dot’s the i - it’s awesome & important that you know this.) Audre Lorde’s entire life and writings are testament to the hard work of loving, which is to say, putting your shoulder to the wheel: standing up and being counted and fighting and speaking and liberating. Endlessly. My passion for poetry and words sits heavily on the air that I breathe so this gift from Audre Lorde gets the choir clapping each. and. every. time. And I’m leading with the tambourine. Thank you, mme Audre. For letting the world know why silence just doesn’t suit us. Indeed, poetry is not a luxury. Glory. Truth-teller. Thank you.
“The quality of light by which we scrutinise our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realised. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are- until the poem- nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding…
At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches so necessary for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean- in order to cover a desperate wish for imagination without insight.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”