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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

15. Poetry of Liberation

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Audre Lorde - Author Questions

Back Back to Audre Lorde Activities
  1. Comprehension: Lorde often writes about differences between generations, particularly of women. In "Black Mother Woman," what is the speaker's relationship to her mother? What has she learned from her? What does this poem have to say about identity? What is the significance of the title?

  2. Comprehension: Many of Lorde's poems explore the issue of being black and female. Why does Lorde title a poem "Coal"? What is the effect of isolating the pronoun "I" on the first line? What is the tone of the poem? How does Lorde portray language in this poem? What is she saying about words and their meanings? What is she saying about blackness in this poem?

  3. Context: How is Lorde's poetry a feminist response to Black Arts poetry, such as that by Baraka? You might compare "Coal" or "Black Mother Woman" with Baraka's "An Agony. As Now." and "A Poem for Willie Best."

  4. Context: Audre Lorde talks about using poetry to break the silence. How does her poetry push the boundaries of the genre's traditional subject matter? How might that align her with confessional poets? What differences do you see between her writing and that of confessional poets like Sexton and Plath?

  5. Exploration: Lorde's poetry, like Baraka's, often expresses rage and violence. Discuss Lorde's intended audience. How might her poetry affect different groups of people? How does Lorde challenge conventional concepts of what it means to be an American?

  6. Exploration: Lorde's interest in African tradition, and particularly in oral traditions, deeply influenced her work. How does oral tradition manifest itself in her poems? How does her use of the oral tradition connect her to earlier African American writers, like those of the Harlem Renaissance, or perhaps to authors of slave narratives? What techniques do these writers share?

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