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
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous

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.


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.)