Audre Lorde Now: A Community Read-in for Our Survival

 

 

In honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the Presidential Task Force on Racial Equity at Hunter College will sponsor an event series focusing on the work of Audre Lorde, who famously described herself as a Black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet.

 

A global icon of antiracism and feminism, art and activism, Lorde (1934-1992) was both an alumna and a Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College.

 

“Audre Lorde Now” is a participatory event series in which members of the Hunter community will meet virtually to discuss a selection of poems and essays, mostly from Lorde’s canonical text, Sister Outsider, using them to reflect on our lives, our communities, our institution and our society. This series offers Lorde’s poetry and prose for our active use as we confront racism, form communities across our differences, and struggle against threats to our individual and collective health. The overarching theme of the series is “survival”, a cornerstone of Lorde’s philosophy.  In view of the dual pandemics of Covid and anti-Black racism, survival is also the central preoccupation of our times.

 

The series will culminate in a celebratory event in which students perform Lorde’s  poems and/or present their own original poems, videos or essays on the theme “Audre Lorde Now”, with cash prizes ($200, $100, $50 for the three best submissions).

 

The Hunter College Library has an electronic version of Sister Outsider; all other readings will be made freely available. For each session you attend, you are encouraged to read at least one poem and all the essays (most are about five pages long) from the suggested works. To be considered for the competition, you must participate in at least one of the community read-ins on Lorde’s work. Information about how to attend the events and access the readings will be forthcoming.

 

                                                                                    May I never lose

                                                                                    that terror

                                                                                    that keeps me brave

                                                                                                  From “Solstice,” Audre Lorde        

 

Schedule of Events

 

Thursday Feb 18,  7:00 pm.  “My Words Will be There:  A Celebration of Audre Lorde on her Birthday. To put this “Black lesbian feminist mother warrior poet” into context, we offer a multi-media event on her life and the enduring power of her work.

 

Please read “My Words Will be There.”

 

Tuesday Feb 23, 6pm.  Doing our Work: Confronting Racism—and other “isms”.  Here we will draw on Lorde’s work as it provides affirmation, inspiration, and guidance to the racially oppressed and their supporters, as well as critical perspectives—and also guidance--for the racially privileged.

 

Read at least one poem and the essays below.

 

Poetry:

Power

A Litany for Survival

Afterimages

Coal

 

Prose:

Poetry is not a Luxury

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism

 

Wednesday March 10, 6pm  “There is no separate survival”: Avoiding the Trap of Divide and Rule

 

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”  How do we avoid the trap of “divide and rule”? 

 

Read at least one poem and the essays below.

 

Poetry:   

Who Said it Was Simple

To the Brown Menace or Poem to the Survival of Roaches

The Woman Thing

 

Prose:

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference

Learning from the 60s

Difference and Survival: An Address at Hunter College

 

Tuesday March 23, 6pm. “For Each of You”: The Politics of Self-Care.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” What are the everyday threats to our health and how do we affirm the value of our lives by practicing radical self-care? 

 

Read at least one poem and the essays below.

 

Poetry:

New York City

To my Daughter the Junkie on a Train

Today is not the Day

For Each of You

 

Prose:

The Cancer Journals: Introduction.

A Burst of Light (Pp 108-133)

 

Friday April 9, 6pm.  Closing Celebration. Students read Lorde’s poetry and present their own poetry, prose, artwork or video on the theme of “Audre Lorde Now”. Cash prizes for the best submissions.  

 

For the read-in, recite a Lorde poem of your choice. In addition to the ones above, here are a few to consider:

 

To the Girl Who Lives in a Tree

From the House of Yemanya

Za Ki Tan Ke Parlay Lot

Movement Song

To the Poet Who Happens to be Black and the Black Poet Who Happens to be A Woman

Now that I am Forever With Child

Six O’clock News

Sahara

Sequelae

Sisters in Arms

Moving In

The Dozens

A Sewer plant grows in Harlem or I’m a Stranger Here Myself When does the Next Swan Leave

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© Feb 2021 Hunter College Dance.

Made by Maura Donohue