Wednesday, August 18, 2010

word food

If I had not read this poem as a teenager, its fair to say I may not have made it.  It's by Alice Walker from her collection Revolutionary Petunias.

Additional info-- this was first published with only those 2 above sentences.  I was talking about survival of spirit-- not literal survival.  I have a problem with brevity.  Brevity plus hyperbole= melodrama.  Ah well.  I'm sure I would have made it-- literally-- without the below poem.  But I might have done something stupid (for me) like go to a good university with a real campus and become an English professor instead of coming to NYC to be a theater artist.



Be Nobody's Darling

for Julius Lester

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools.

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave words they said.

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.

Is there some poem or song lyric that absolutely saved your ass when you were young?  (Of course there is.)  Please share.

2 comments:

rutherv said...

ooo I LOVE that, Kate! My younger, outcast self would have sure appreciated that.

I calligraphied this poem on my school notebook when I was 15:

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
frozen with snow.
- Langston Hughes.

Kate T.W. said...

Ruth, I have goosebumps. (What Robin Rose Bennett calls truthbumps.)