Audre Lorde passed over on my 21st birthday and I have long felt an affinity for her work. Her birthday, February 18, is always a great time to revisit her words and work to see what most resonates now.
There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or OtherWise.(emphasis mine)
You cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.
I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde
Don’t wait for inspiration. Remember. Do not wait for inspiration. You don’t need to be inspired, to write a poem. You need to reach down and touch the thing that’s boiling inside of you and make it somehow useful.
In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us – that thin persistent voice that says our efforts are useless, it will never change, so why bother, accept it. And we must fight that inserted piece of self-destruction that lives and flourishes like a poison inside of us, unexamined until it makes us turn upon ourselves in each other. But we can put our finger down upon that loathing buried deep within each one of us and see who it encourages us to despise, and we can lessen its potency by the knowledge of our real connectedness, arcing across our differences.
Looking back at 2014 and some of what resonated then:
If you don’t define yourself for yourself, then you will be crushed into other’s fantasies of you and eaten alive.
Everything can be used / except what is wasteful / (you will need / to remember this when you are accused of destruction’).
But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision af!d our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies. Anger is loaded with information and energy.
This hatred and our anger are very different. Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change.
I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.
Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.
Interview with Carla Hammond for Denver Quarterly 16.1 (1981)
Here is another post with 35 of her better known quotes (reference)