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Why. Good evening and welcome to woman. Tonight you're going to meet two outstanding women
poets. They're going to read and discuss their works. With me is Audrey Lord Audrey is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Audrey third book of poetry from a land where other people live was nominated for a National Book Award in poetry in 1974. Her most recent poetry is titled coal. Also joining us is poet novelist Marge Pearcey Marge is the author of four novels the latest titled Woman on the edge of time. Her fourth and latest book of poems living in the open is the closest she's come to an autobiography. March travels regularly giving readings and workshops. Welcome to both of you. Audrey do you read other people's poems. I read other people's problems when I can find poems that move me. Yes unfortunately some of it's very upsetting all too often. But I still come back to it because it gives me a great deal. Poetry After all I think is one of the few
ways in which we're allowed to touch a motion to be reached by other people in a sense. Some of the clearest sharing of experiences that we have and so I keep coming back to it over and over again. It is especially true for women. Yes I must say. And women. And black poets are writing as far as I'm concerned. Much more satisfying in terms of sharing sharing experience and Iraq it is language. Marge do you read other people's poems. I do. What do you mean by amp setting. I want to know. Well upsetting only because so much of what is called poetry or is labelled poetry. Today I find the most charitable words that I can use is obstructionist. I think that so much of what is called poetry becomes constructs that are erected in the same way so much of the so many of our buildings and all the artifacts off to separate us rather than
to make bridges or to pull us together knowing that nobody lives in buildings that nobody lives in buildings that no one enjoys looking at buildings that serve no other function except. Separation or display of power and money and to have poetry used to have those things that function in that way. Well it always upsets when you read other people's food. Yes I always write poetry in part because I like it because I need it. I mean a lot of poetry is offensive to me but I think that there's more poetry. That is not oppressive than most other parts you know of the culture more than other kinds of books more than film certainly more than record certainly there's there's more poetry that comes out of parts of the culture that feed me that's written by women that's written by people coming to consciousness written by blacks it's written by people who. Are becoming
aware themselves who are interested in changing whose consciousness is not a not oppressive to me that feeds me enlighten me educates me. I would like it if we didn't talk very much I would really like to hear you read we made a tape earlier and I think it would be very nice if we hear that now. I think it's more important to hear poetry than to talk about it. This is a poem written to my daughter the day after she was born. The title now that I am for ever with a child how the days when while you were blooming within me I remember each upon each the swelling changed planes of my body and how you first love her then job. And I thought it was my heart how the days wound down and the turning of winter. I recall with you growing heavy against the wind. I thought now her hands all form now her hair has started to curl. Now her
teeth done. Now she sneezes. Then the seat opened. I bore you. One morning just before spring my head rang like a fiery piston. My legs were towers between which a new world was passing. Since then I can only distinguish one thread within running hours. You flowing through selves toward you. The love poem. Speak. Earth and bless me with his riches makes skies glow honey out of my Yet rigid as mountains spread over a valley carved out by
the mouths of rain. And I knew when I entered her I was high when they had her forests hollow. Fingers whispering sound honey flowed from the split top impaled on a lance of tongue on the tips of her breasts on her navel and my breath how into her entrance is too long. Greedy as hairy or a child I swing out over the earth over and over again. The next poem is untitled train. It's in two parts and it was written on a cation of my reading
an article which haunts me still and which I hope will continue to haunt each one of you. The story is of three girls three teenage girls who were taken from their natural parents home and placed into custody into placement because they bore had borne children by their natural father and the girls asked to be returned to their homes and the court returned all three of them. Cheyne won. Faces surround me that have no smell no collar no time. Only strange laughing Testament's vomiting promise like love. But look at the skeleton children advancing against us but neath their faces. There is no sunlight no darkness no heart remains no legends to bring them back because women into their bodies at
dawn look at the skeleton children advancing against us we will find our womanhood in their eyes as they cry which you bore me will love me I will claim my blindness as yours which you marches to battle from between our legs. Sisters I have seen you spit on my image behind your own Mira. But you're screened for me. When the night cutout you're young we stand convicted in the same court of asking each other's name and age before we give blood. Part two. On the porch outside my door. Young girls are lying like felled maples in the path of my feet. I cannot step past them nor over them. Their slim bodies
roll like small tree trunks repeating themselves over and over until my porch is covered with the bodies of young girls. Some have a child in their arms to watch death. I look for wisdom which Mirah to break or mourn. Two girls repeat themselves in my doorway. Their eyes are not stone. Their flesh is not wood nor steel but I cannot touch them. Should I warn them of night or offer them bread for a song. They are sisters. Their father has known them over and over. The twins they carry are his. Whose death shall we mourn in this forest. Winter has come and our children are dying. One begs me to hold her between my breasts. Oh write me a
poem mother. Here are over my flesh. Get your words upon me as he got this child upon me. I will father lover me in the night. Do not be angry with us. We told him your bed was wider but he said if we did it then we would be his good children. He said if we did it then we would be his good children if we did it. Then he would love us all make us a poem that will tell us his name and your language. Is he lover father. We will leave your words engraved on a whip or a pair of golden scissors for our children to tell them the law is of their birth. And another says Mother I am holding your place. Do you know me better than we knew him or myself.
Am I his daughter all girl friend. Am I your child or your rival. You wish to be gone from your bed. Here is your granddaughter mother. Give us a blessing before I sleep. What other secrets do you have to tell me. How do I learn to love her as you have loved me. The last poem is sole status which is a call to power. We forgot to water the plant and shoots when our houses were full of borrowed meat and our stomachs with the gifts of strangers who laughed now as they pass us because our land is
barren. The farms are choked with stunted rows of straw and with our nightmares of juicy Brown yams that cannot fail us the rules of our houses rot from last winter's water but hot drinking pots are broken. We have used them to mourn the death of old lovers. The next rain will wash our footprints away and our children have married beneath them. Our skins are empty. They have been vacated by the spirits who are angered by our reluctance to feed them in baskets of straw made from sleepy grass and the droppings of civets. They have been hidden away by our mothers who are waiting for us by the river. My skin
is tightening. Soon I shall shed it like a monitor lizard like remembered comfort that the new moons rising I will eat the last signs of my weakness remove the scars of old childhood wars and dare to enter the forest whistling like a snake that has fed the shin millions for changes. I shall be for ever. May I never remember reasons for my spirit safety. May I never forget the warning of my woman's flesh weeping at the New Moon. May I never allude that terror that keeps me brave. May I. Oh nothing I cannot
repay. Audrey you do a lot of reading around the country you do to march. What do you think you get and what do you think the audience get. I think that when I get the most the audience gets the most too. And it's a mutual it's almost a ritual shared emotional experience. There is a touching a strengthening of what I'm trying to do with my poetry and a connection between people which I believe is what poetry is all about. I've been mostly women in the audience it's my very best readings yes but not always. Not always I would have to say because it comes into who do I write for that I write for and to any human being who can be touched reached. By my work. And by the way he wins including men yes. Marge what about you.
Well I give a lot of ratings and do a fixed proportion of paid readings the benefits. I read often times for audiences of predominantly women and oftentimes for audiences that are mixed. I get feedback I think that the kind of audiences that you have now since there's a lot more that sense of women's culture and women coming out through news in writing poetry. Even the audiences that are mixed are different. The audiences are perhaps more like older church audiences than not not High Church not fancy churches but. Revival old church people church is right. In other words people are coming asking for affirmation for images of wholeness for thing to getting in touch with their anger their joy people expecting moved women in particular expect to be moved. Expect to be touched. Expect to respond and you expect reading them to get feedback the kind of feedback that previously musicians gotten preachers
got my best feedback isn't critical reviews critical reviews or important cause that's how people hear about you and that's how colleges decide you're worth spending money on. But the real feedback is the feedback that you get face to face with people. You know it'll strengthen and that encourages our strength which in turn we're right and freed back so it's a continuous process. It's back and forth there. It's not a one way poet which is what the modern poetry was about. I read and you listen. But poetry is really a sharing. And so there must be feedback between audience and poet because it's what we it's what we live on it's what we strengthen ourselves by and continue writing or to do. I did yes and I think that when people respond to the poetry they're not responding to self-expression or an ego trip on my part they're responding to the poetry because they feel it's true because they feel it's for them and their experience as well as my own and they're giving me back.
The sense of that experience that a poem touches the listener's strength reinforces it for the person who is listening and they in turn return to us some of that strength which we write and share. My Click HERE to read now. We made a tape earlier that here. Are a poem. It doesn't have a fancier title. There is no difference between being raped and being pushed down a flight of cement steps except that the wounds also believed inside. There is no difference between being raped and being run over by a truck. Except that afterwards men asked if you enjoyed it. There is no difference between being raped and being bit on the ankle by a rattlesnake. Except that people ask if your skirt was short and why were you out alone anyhow. There is no difference between being raped and going headfirst through a windshield. Except that afterward you are afraid not of cars but half the human race.
The rapist is your boyfriend's brother. He sits beside you in the movies eating popcorn rape fast on the fantasies of a normal male. Like a maggot in garbage. Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing on a woman's hunch back never to stroll along a sand road through pine wood never to climb a trail across a bald without that aluminum in the mouth. When I see a man climbing toward me never to open the door to one without that razor just grazing the throat the fear of the dark side of hedges the backseat of a car the empty house like a snake's warning. The feel of the smiling man who spoke it is the night the fear of the serious man and in whose. This is a law hatred.
All it takes to cast a rapist is a see your body as jackhammer as blow torch as adding machine gun. All it takes is hating that body your own your self and your muscle that softens the flab. All it takes is to push what you want you are on to the soft alien flesh to back it out Invincible is a tank armored with treads without senses to rip up pleasure to murder those who dare live in the leafy flesh open to love. This is a problem in praise of an unpopular subject work. It's a title poem from to be of use. The people I love the best work head first without being in the shallows and swim off with strokes almost out of sight.
They seemed to become that silly heads bouncing like half submerged. I love people who harness themselves and store heavy cart with massive patients who strive to move things forward. Who do they done again and again. I want to be with people who submerge in the task who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass them who are not generals and the actors. But in a common rhythm. When the food must come in or the fire be put out. The work of the world is common as mud botched it smears the hands of dust but the thing worth doing.
Well done has a shape that satisfies clean and evidence. Agree. As for why in an oil be they says the hell are put in museums. But you know they were made to be the pitcher cries for her to carry and a purse for work. That is real. But. This is called unclench yourself. Sort of a personal magic type unclench yourself. But I tell you I tell you we are able now and gently with. Them and then as they wish to curl
into a single hide some other skin and wrists in Flash and rests then flourish and come the way it is a river with a strong current but its waters will not let go. Do not hold your head in the current no better than your feet. Do you find that in this weekend we can then underwater find small gardens and bright fish too tender too tender for the air. This is sort of a fanatic poem for discouraged times. To underscore you called Phyllis wounded
the history as it carries us swim upstream across the currents no to the river to create new currents with the force of our arms and backs this torrent as it shapes us dragging us under to the green where the breath from the young lungs and the eyes were among the sea of water. Fellas you complain too much. We carry in the hits of the good birth center where we have everything we desire carried in on is serene as respectable as secure as an obituary in The Times. We were not born for a heaven of Sunday it is given the
hunger that have been twisting through the earth and of death. My friend the Amazons were hideous with the white scars of knife wounds a wail for the sword slashes. Nobody have a right and yet it sucks us all nerves way into the resonance that women who climb on a platform or a crowd barricade your smile is rich with risk and subtle with enemies can tested your memories and in the dark.
Like boys that someone and give warning of danger and the channel through. I was not born a serf to Iraq I feel I was not born to bend over a pressing machine while the sun rose and set. I was not born a star in the first year with big belly and spindly legs. I was not born to be gang raped by soldiers at Fort Dean. I was not born to die in childbirth. To be burned at the stake by the church but of all these doctors. Luckily there's an apple and a boost of battle swinging our great grandmothers and so did women in our hair for food and freedom. The electricity drives me humming what a privilege to be the heiress of so much
wanting. How can we ever give up. Thank you both. Which is and was founded by public television stations
and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Episode Number
Contemporary Women Poets
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
WNED (Buffalo, New York)
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Episode Description
This episode features a conversation with Audre Lorde and Marge Piercy. Lorde is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Her third book of poetry, "From a Land Where Other People Live," was nominated for a National Book Award in Poetry in 1974. Her most recent book of poetry is titled "Coal." Piercy is a poet-novelist. She is the author of four novels; the latest is titled "Woman on the Edge of Time." Her fourth and latest book of poetry is titled "Living in the Open." She travels regularly giving readings and workshops.
Episode Description
This record is part of the Literature section of the Soul of Black Identity special collection.
Series Description
Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
Created Date
Asset type
Talk Show
Social Issues
Copyright 1976 by Western New York Educational Television Association, Inc.
Media type
Moving Image
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Director: George, Will
Guest: Piercy, Marge
Guest: Lorde, Audre
Host: Elkin, Sandra
Producer: Elkin, Sandra
Producing Organization: WNED
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: WNED 04403 (WNED-TV)
Format: DVCPRO
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:28:30
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Woman; 404; Contemporary Women Poets,” 1976-08-03, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “Woman; 404; Contemporary Women Poets.” 1976-08-03. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Woman; 404; Contemporary Women Poets. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from