10 Thoughts: Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name
I’m not sure what made me pick up this book. The name Audre Lorde was familiar to me, yet her work was not, but when I saw this book and it’s intriguing cover I picked it up immediately. It was the last one. That was a sign. I held it close and sprinted to the checkout in a race against my conscious as I wasn’t supposed to be buying anything that day and had only just started reading another book. Here’s what I thought
1. Elegantly written
Audre Lorde has a beautiful way with words. Her detailed descriptions of everything from fashion to the landscape along with the poetry littered throughout make it lovely read.
2. Slow Start
The book starts in Harlem’s 1930s. The first time we’re introduce to Audre she’s just five years old. Her early years including home and school etc are interesting, but gave the book a slower start so it took me a while to get into it.
3. Memories of Mum
Inspite of the slow start there are beautiful scenes of a mother/daughter relationship played out against the backdrop of strict Caribbean values in a New York setting. Simple scenes such as grinding spices in the kitchen or Lorde getting her first period reminded me of moments between my own mother and me.
4. Caribbean Stoicism
Lorde’s parents migrated from Carriacou to New York in a time where segregation was commonplace and racism was the norm. Throughout, Lorde describes moments of pure strength. Moments such as her mother refusing to acknowledge to Audre (and perhaps to herself) that a man had intentionally spat at them in the street. Or the fact her parents hid their financial strain from their three daughters. These examples of resilience in such trying times are similar to things I’ve seen in generations of my own family.
5. An Adventurer
I won’t give too much away, but as you read the book and follow Lorde on her adventures, it’s so easy to forget how young she was to experience so much.
6. Strong Female Bonds
Whether describing friends or lovers the beauty and strength which Lorde values in female relationships is both clear and passionately told.
7. Intersectional Feminism
This book was written long before the idea of intersectionality became popular thought. However, despite her dependence on female kinship, Lorde can’t escape the differences in race and sexuality that define and separate the experiences of the women she knows. At one point she writes:
Being women together was not enough. We were different. Being gay-girls together was not enough. We were different. Being Black together was not enough. We were different. Being Black women together was not enough. We were different. Being black dykes together was not enough. We were different.
8. Young Love
Lorde’s relationships are woven into every facet of this book. Her description of the all-encompassing, breathtaking, forever-feeling of first loves is just perfect. Oh I miss those days!
9. Memories and Reflection
Lorde writes with both the view point of her adolescent self with sprinkles of reflection from her older self as she writes. She writes about feelings, thoughts and experiences which she had nice words for at the time, yet has a better understanding of now.
10. Myth or Legend?
The book is described as a biomythography which is said to be a mix of biography, history and mythology. It’s hard to tell what this means. There is no clear distinction where the biography ends and the mythology begins which I suppose is testament to Lorde’s writing. Either way. I loved it.