Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing

Catherine E. McKinley, Editor, Joyce DeLaney, Editor, L. Joyce DeLaney, Editor
Catherine E. McKinley, Editor, Joyce DeLaney, Editor, L. Joyce DeLaney, Editor Anchor Books $21 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-47355-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Hardcover - 317 pages - 978-0-385-47354-5
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The title of this collection of 20 essays, stories and poems is the name of a lover portrayed by Audre Lorde both in the excerpt from Zami that introduces the collection and in the poem that ends it. Both are, first and foremost, works of literature. As the editors say in their introduction, ``identity politics bind and frankly bore us,'' and here beauty, meaning and insight outweigh any given political stance. Even where there is politically charged jargon, such as in Jocelyn Maria Taylor's essay recalling her life as a stripper and her burgeoning political consciousness, it is compensated for by her smart take on the image of the black woman's body. By and large, the selections are encompassing: any African American will understand Alexis De Veaux's painful letter to her light-skinned ``Dear Aunt Nanadine''; any woman will cringe at the story of a back-alley abortion related by Helen Elaine Lee. And any human will be moved by Cynthia Bond's searing tale of abuse and madness. The essays are intelligent, for example Jewelle Gomez's look at her complicated relationships with black men; Linda Villarosa's studied response to blinkered Bible-thumpers who would throw stones; and Evelyn C. White's touching, nostalgic recollection of family life in Gary, Ind., in the '60s and her first realization that her mother was a woman, not just an accessory to child and man. Not every piece is of equal quality, but the majority deserve to be read. (May)
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