Lorde’s Coal

Audre Lorde

Audre Lord would go on to be one of the cornerstones of the contemporary poetry, a woman referenced by anyone who cares about the art form. An activist who taught a generation that “”Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”

But when she wrote Coal, she wasn’t famous yet. She was already a powerful writer, shaping language to address the political through the lens of the human, writing about social justice, yes, but also love. This is a slim volume by a relatively young woman finding her voice and better scholars than I might say the work is not yet mature, but I found it deeply compelling, human, and real. A strong introduction to a powerful voice.


Review: Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues

Stone Butch Blues: A Novel
Leslie Feinberg

This novel/memoir chronicles the world of a working class lesbian, gay, and transgendered people in New York from the days before Stonewall to the early nineties. It is a classic and was at the time it came out the most important book written to date on transgender issues. It is complex story of a complex person trying to find their way in a world hell bent on destroying them.  It is by turns horrifying, uplifting, aggravating and inspiring.

I cried reading it on the train.

Feinberg was a committed communist, and some of the scenes involving worker solidarity are contrived. But all in all, the book is well written and deeply moving. You should know the book chronicles the LGBT scene pre-Stonewall and that includes scenes of gay bashing that are horrific, yet all too realistic.

That said, this is a book very much worth reading.