This is my last blog post in the month of February. I’ve been posting what I’ve learned from the memoirs I’ve read for two months now, and I still have plenty of books to cover.
I want to talk to you about other subjects, too, but I’m reluctant to ignore the rest of my memoir books. So I think I’ve worked out a compromise. I’ll try posting about a memoir once a week, and that way I will gradually work my way through them. It’s not only fun to share the books, but writing these posts reminds me of what I learned about each book, which is such a good review for me.
Then I can write about other things in my other posts–yay!
Today’s memoir is poet Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. On the cover it calls itself a BIOMYTHOGRAPHY.
So I didn’t think of it as a memoir when I read it in grad school. I was immersing myself in the work of Lorde for a possible chapter in my dissertation. Unfortunately, Lorde passed away of cancer while I was in grad school. She was 58 years old, the same age I am now. This chapter never got finished, although my dissertation did.
On a related note, here is my favorite Lorde poem, “Coal.”
Anyway, back to how Lorde wanted to think of this book–as a biomythography. In it she writes about her origins, as a Caribbean child growing up lesbian in Harlem, and she writes about some of the women she loved in her life. She tried to create a new literary genre, by combining a personal mythology with biographical events, but it reads to me as an experimental memoir.
Does that word experimental annoy you or turn you off? It does me. But this is a beautiful book.
In its play with language and boundaries, the book is representative of feminist texts of the early 90s. You won’t notice that so much as you will fall into Lorde’s world and find out what it was like to be an African-American lesbian poet of her time period. That’s what I learned from Lorde’s book.