The excerpt I’ve chosen is from a book by Audre Lorde, an African American feminist and civil rights activist. The book is ‘Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches‘ and the excerpt is ‘Poetry is not a luxury‘.
In the book she talks about the european way of living in which, life is seen as a problem to be solved, and that ideas are the only way to set ourselves free from it. However, the non-european mode of living encourages us to see life a s a situation to be experienced and interacted with. This would be the only way we can harness the hidden power within us which can fuel our dreams and the lasting action it requires. Poetry, according to her is the distillation of these experiences. It becomes the keystone to our survival, as we, as women, carry within us the ability to fuse both these approaches.
Poetry then, can never be a luxury. It becomes the essence of our womanhood, the necessity of our existence. Through poetry we set off a chain of events, starting with making it into language, then into idea and finally into tangible action required to fight against social injustice.
She elaborates this by saying, “Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought…As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring ideas.”
She goes on to say that there are no new idea, but only new ways of making them felt! We should inspire ourselves and others around us to listen to our dreams and take up the renegade actions that these call upon. Take this strength from the fathomless reserve of power we all have within us.
I’d like to end with a quote of hers that goes like this,”For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.”
The song I’ve chosen is Cherry Wine by Hozier. Here are the lyrics.
As we read the lyrics, it becomes evident that the narrator is a man being abused by a destructive woman. On the contrary, when we look at the video, the lady is the one being abused. It’s a good choice considering it allows Hozier to use his own voice and call out to abused men, while also acknowledging abused women. I think this is the primary meaning.
However, the lyrics could also be read in reverse, about a man abusing a woman and justifying his actions. They say all abusers are narcissistic and so, they project their actions onto the other person; blaming them for it. It is very well written in that regard. It can also highlight the fact that two people can abuse EACH OTHER at the SAME TIME, in many different and unique ways. A point that is often over looked as it edges very close to victim shaming. The song could easily be about an emotionally abusive woman in a relationship with a physically abusive man, or vice versa.
According to me, the fact that this song brings out so many angles to the same story, makes it a fine example of both, critical art and critical thought alike. It has a strong symbolic element and encompasses within it the whole message.