Of Coal, the poet and critic Hayden Carruth said, “For us these words indeed are jewels in the open light.’ Coal is one of the earliest collections of poems by a woman who, Adrienne Rich writes, “…for the complexity of her vision, for her moral courage and the catalytic passion of her language, has already become, for many, an indispensable poet”.
Marilyn Hacker captures the essence of Lorde and her poetry: “Black, lesbian, mother, urban woman: none of Lorde’s selves has ever silenced the others; the counterpoint among them is often the material of her strongest poems.”
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth's inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a words, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.
Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book - buy and sign and tear apart -
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Other know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Love is word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth's inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.