Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

by Feb 26, 2019Queer Syllabus

The Queer Syllabus is a joint project from The Rumpus and Foglifter Press that allows writers to nominate works for a new canon of queer literature. When we identify our roots, when we point to the work that shaped us as writers and as people, we demonstrate that our stories are timeless, essential, and important—and so are we. The Queer Syllabus is edited by Wesley O. Cohen and Marisa Siegel.

 

“To whom do I owe the symbols of my survival?” writes Lorde at the opening of Zami, her beautiful and epic “biomythography,” a genre she describes as a blend of history, myth, and biography. The book is Lorde’s intimate and evocative account of her life, from vivid memories of her childhood in 1940s Harlem to reflections on her relationships with the women she loved. From the desperately lonely child biting her palms to stay awake so she can listen to the stories her older sisters tell each other at night, to an out Black lesbian in 1950s New York, Lorde knew early that survival meant creating her own space in a world that refused to make it for her. Zami is “a Carriacou word for women who work together as friends and lovers,” and that’s exactly what Lorde does with the women she finds, together learning to uncover the autonomy and self-love necessary for survival.

I read this book religiously, poring over it like I would a sacred script. It almost reads like one, tooLorde’s writing is so sage-like and refined it nearly belies the surging emotion beneath. With beautiful, imaginative prose that nods to her poet’s brain, Lorde renders her life and sexuality with unshakable honesty, vulnerability, and sincerity. I quickly fell in love with her and her view of the world, my heart breaking when hers did but always getting put back together in a better way than before.

Although the meaning and nature of my survival is much different than Lorde’s, I still was compelled to consider the question she poses to herself at the beginning of Zami: To whom do I owe the symbols of my survival? I owe mine undoubtedly to writers like Audre Lorde, who bring their truth outward and tell their stories unapologetically, who make queerness and otherness into something that empowers and unites rather than something that weakens and divides, who speak to those reaching for a place in the world and make them feel a little less alone.

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Wow! We had the best time at this past Sunday's reading with the San Francisco Public Library Thank you so much to our fantastic readers—@emo.ocean (Lio Min), @real_james_cagney, @charliejaneanders, and Lydia Elias—for sharing their incredible writing and starting a warm dialogue on the importance of queer spaces.We'd also like to give a huge shoutout to the amazing folks who helped make our event as accessible as possible! Thank you to our ASL interpreters Heidi Woelbling and Benny Llamas, and to our live-captioner Jen Schuck. We're so grateful for your hard work!Keep an eye out for a recording of this event on the SFPL Youtube page! We'll announce when it's ready. Until then, please go follow and support these writers and their work!Image Description: A screenshot of a Zoom room with Lio Min, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Charlie Jane Anders. They are all smiling and listening to each other. There is some closed captioning towards the bottom, that says "I'm really struck by how much vulnerability you all shared. As a writer, I'm curious how you know when you're ready to put a story to the page?" End description. ... See MoreSee Less
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Our virtual reading with the San Francisco Public Library is tomorrow! Join us at 2PM PT for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling.This fantastic event will feature James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias! RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterFoglifter is excited to collaborate with @sfpubliclibrary for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling! Join us on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT for a virtual reading with @charliejaneanders, @emo.ocean, @real_james_cagney, Lydia Elias. In mainstream society, when we hear the word "generations" we may immediately presume biological progeniture. In the Queer/trans community, however, generations can refer to chosen family, drag mothers, drag dads, ball houses, aesthetic legacies, just to name a few. In either context, generations suggest an era. Foglifter has invited four writers—Charlie Jane Anders, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Lio Min—who span generations to illustrate their "era" and the power of queer/trans literature. Live-captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterSee you then! Image Description: This is an invitation for the reading, “Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling,” presented by the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center & Foglifter Journal and Press. This free and virtual reading will take place on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT. The photos of James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias are in the middle of the graphic. The SFPL and Foglifter logos are on the bottom. This background has a colorful gradient of pastel hues and various shapes and swirls, with a square containing all of the text and photos in the middle. ... See MoreSee Less
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There's just ONE WEEK until IT CAME FROM THE CLOSET is available wherever books are sold!!! Have you ordered your copy yet? https://bit.ly/3xAnz9k @joevallese @homohorror

WWS Around Town: This Saturday join this workshop with traci kato-kiriyama (@traciakemi) at @BBLitArts from 12pm-4pm.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-without-instruments-a-workshop-with-traci-kato-kiriyama-tickets-400498530887

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