Book Cover Image of Coal by Audre Lorde

by Audre Lorde

    Publication Date: Aug 17, 1996
    List Price: $15.95
    Format: Paperback, 80 pages
    Classification: Poetry
    ISBN13: 9780393314861
    Imprint: W. W. Norton & Company
    Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
    Parent Company: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

    Paperback Description:

    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.
    Some words
    bedevil me

    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.

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