The first ‘coming out’ book I ever read was Audre Lorde’s ZAMI: A New Spelling of My Name, billed as a “Biomythography,” a new genre created by Lorde. I read this book, checked out from a library, long before I ever encountered the more often rotated among young lesbians Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. I later read many more books by Lorde, especially her poetry, finally ending with her account detailing her struggle with breast cancer and society’s reception of that battle, The Cancer Journals. Though she had long gone before I became aware of her and her work, I did get to meet Adrienne Rich and hear her speak of her friend, Audre Lorde, at a little church in Baltimore, sponsored by the now-sadly-defunct 31st Feminist Bookstore not long after I was relieved and encouraged by ZAMI. I felt closer, somehow, for the brief interaction one remove from her life.
So it with pleasure today that I find Mendi and Keith Obadike have produced two new songs — including a little spoken word? (certainly poetry) — especially “The Earth Will Hear” appropriately dedicated to Audre Lorde and Marlon Riggs, which resounds with my feeling the loss of Lorde, “… Not knowing what to do / with my hands, I write / to my dead friend. In truth, / I never earned the right / to call her friend. I am / just a wet face on the edge / of her travels. Maybe you think / I’ll show what I put down, / but heaved those words / just for her. As she has / no address, I have to read them / until water spills from me. / And my ink discovers / its source. And a hole opens up …”
Listen to the EP here:
SIDE A: “If The Heavens Don’t Hear
(a roller skating jam for Marian Anderson)”
SIDE B: “The Earth Will Hear
(for Audre Lorde and Marlon Riggs)”
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.