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Analysis and comments on Coal by Audre Lorde

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Comment 8 of 28, added on January 22nd, 2010 at 2:27 AM.

I have just finished writing a report about Audre Lorde. I remember that
some of my source material said that this poem(beautiful!)is about how she
feels about being black and her blackness. I usually don't have a lot of
trouble interpreting poems, but for me this seems to be more about words.
Is that because she is saying that her blackness is comes from the same
place as her Words do?

Sally Valentine from United States
Comment 7 of 28, added on November 20th, 2008 at 12:40 AM.

People write about what they know and who they are, it is what legitimises
their works. What use would it be if she wrote about the holocaust...she
hasnt experienced it therefore we would not feel the emotion as intensly as
we do in this poem. Your question is like asking why Irish poets like Yeats
are always writing about being Irish when the english were trying to strip
you of your identity, or why soldiers like Wilferd Owen write about being
at war, or why writers like Anne Frank write of the injustices of the
holocaust due to their culture...

Mosa from South Africa
Comment 6 of 28, added on November 2nd, 2008 at 10:46 AM.

Slavery and human atrocities happened to many different cultures and races,
even whites. Maybe it has been forgotten that slavery was in existance way
before it was done to blacks. People have gone through trying times
throughout history eg. Slavery in Europe, Jewish Holocast, Indian Caste
system, European class system etc. There is always discrimination
happening, even with people of the same race. No culture or race can say
they are without bias or discrimination. So I think it is important to
state that people write about what they know or what they have experienced.
Whether it has been abuse, loss, victimization, war, discrimination,
torture. etc. humans have a history of abusing others. Each person deals
with it in different ways eg. art, poetry, writing, or whatever means
necessary to express themselves. So lets not look at what race a
poet/artist/worker/person is, but lets concentrate on the message they wish
to convey.

Marlene from South Africa
Comment 5 of 28, added on August 6th, 2008 at 8:40 PM.

Gottlieb is it? You have asked; Why is it that black people can't write
about anything except being black? In order to get the right answer without
anyone offending you for your own peace, here is what you should imagine
vividly. Imagine an event where you and your sister, and brother are
captured. You are naked, and you are on a ship with people you do not know
their language, their culture, and you have never seen them before. They
tie you to a wooden bed on the ship and across from you, it is your family
that are also tied up. In a night fall, you are raped by the men who
captured you, and your sister as well is getting raped. Your brother is
watching, but he is helpless to do anything about it. You were virgin, but
you lost your virginity by rape, and those who do not appreciate your body.
Your sister dies of a blood loss, after being raped numerous times by over
a hundred men. You survived, but your brother had tried to defend you, and
he got shot. He is not dead, but he is in a terrible pain, in risk of
infection, and no one cares about him. You two are brought to a land
unknown to you. You are worker death to yourself. Your brother works at the
field, and you work as a housemaid. You cook food so fast that if you make
a mistake your are forced to eat until you joke on it. Your brother is
getting whipped everyday regardless of the good job he does in the field
along with other ones like him. Your master rapes you every night since you
have not allowed him to have sex with you. His wife is suspicion and in
turn she punish you more. You become pregnant and you give birth to a twin
boys. You try to escape and save your children from the horrible people.
Before you got to any far, you are captured and your children are sold in
to slavery. Because you are so good looking, another man who is no
different than one you escaped from captures you in to his custody. Again
you are enslaved. You do not know the whereabouts of your brother and your
children. Your children grow in to adults, and flourish, have many kids,
and generations later, these kids become writers, poets, teachers, and
fights back, so they can have better life than their parents, and demand
for their voice to be heard. These kids, are still experiencing
discrimination in every direction, but things have gotten better. Now, the
man who enslaved you have had so many kids later on, that themselves had
flourished, and their kids generation later, one of these kids ask;
Why is it that black people can't write about anything except being black?
because they do not know what is like to be separated from one's family,
what is like to be brought in to a world one's value is lowered, and
erased, and yet, people are still asking these questions.
Now you know the answer to the question you are asking.
It is human nature in case you do not know, it is what everyone is familiar
with. If you want to see black people write different subject, starting
from you, perhaps you ought to start yourself to recognize what had happen
in the past have everything to do with what happens today. I hope the way
that you will put yourself in this story, will make it easier for you to
understand, because I wanted it to tell you in a way where you can really
connect to the black perspective on writing subject in black.
Anisa from Minnesota

Anisa Hajimumin from United States
Comment 4 of 28, added on March 4th, 2008 at 9:29 PM.

why is it that white people can't write about anything that isn't about
white people? I'm Samoan, for me, this poem is fundamentally about being
black, centrally in terms of race, but pivotally, about every other living
thing. You just need to be able to read beyond yourself to see it.

Selina from New Zealand
Comment 3 of 28, added on April 15th, 2006 at 12:44 AM.

It wasn't that racist or immature. It just sounds more like a question a
pre-schooler would ask (along the lines of why is the sky blue? Why are
people mean). It's not even extremely offensive unless you are really going
out of your way to be offended. Ignorant though, yea sure.

Anyways I was just thinking about the opening line, it keeps running across
my mind. Such a dark opening line, if kept seperate from the rest can be
interpreted as gothic, but when associated with a cultural heritage gains a
whole new meaning. I liked that.

Jon S. from Canada
Comment 2 of 28, added on November 10th, 2005 at 8:56 AM.

Gottlieb, your comment is not only blatantly ignorant and immature, it's
extremely offensive and rude. Clearly you are uneducated and know nothing
about Audre Lorde, her works, or civil rights for that matter. Yes, she
writes about being African American, and the hardships she's faced, because
thses experiences are an integral part of her life and we as outsiders can
learn greatly from them. She also writes about being a mother, a daughter,
a lover, a second-class citizen, a poet, an American, and a lesbian (I'm
sure you also love that one). Please keep your idiocy to your self from now
on. This forum is for comments and questions that benefit learning and
growing, not racist, sweeping generalizations that bring us back to circa

Jenn from United States
Comment 1 of 28, added on May 18th, 2005 at 7:14 AM.

Why is it that black people can't write about anything except being black?

Gottlieb from United States

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Information about Coal

Poet: Audre Lorde
Poem: Coal
Added: May 7 2003
Viewed: 14 times
Poem of the Day: Jan 8 2007

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