The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry, 1980 to 2005

Cheryl Clarke, Author . Carroll & Graf $15.95 (419p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1675-3

Among the first and most prominent outspoken African-American lesbian feminists of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the intrepid Clarke has continued to publish essays and verse: this big volume (most of it prose) makes a good overview. The first section places six short early poems about women-identified women beside the prose pieces which first brought Clarke national fame: "Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance"; "Black, Brave and Woman, Too"; "The Failure to Transform: Homophobia in the Black Community." "Black women," the second of those essays predicted, "are on the brink of synthesizing the politics of women's liberation and the politics of black liberation for our own personal-is-political development." That synthesis, however, could not happen (and may not have happened yet) without including lesbians: "Being a Black lesbian is not easy, and the more non-middle-class, nonbourgeois elite the lesbian, the harder it is." Clarke's later essays and poems (many of the latter gathered under the group title "Living as a Lesbian") repeat and expand these insights, drawing humor, strength and righteous anger from the blues tradition: "Nothing I wouldn't do for the woman I sleep with/ when nobody satisfy me the way she do." (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
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