Free Digital Download of Audre Lorde's Questionnaire to Oneself
“Mommy, how old do I have to be to read Audre Lorde with you?” asks my daughter.
She sees me reading her essays and poetry often. There’s a copy of sister outsider that doesn’t live in my bookshelf. Instead, it is a nomad making its way through the many terrains and surfaces of our household. My 7 year old daughter wants to tap into her magic too. I think she’s too young but I also think she is an old soul longing to commune with the contemplatives at her caliber. For now, I read a few lines of Audre Lorde’s poetry to my daughter as we lie in bed and she snuggles into me.
I’m deep in my Audre Lorde contemplations. I don’t yet have the language to name how she is reforming and shaping my hope. Her writings hold me and push me into new realms of possibility. I am drawn to her stories of being a New York gyal who travelled to the South (aka: the place of great American writing) for her fellowship. I am entranced by her radical feminist and womanist perspectives on everything and how unapologetically she held her lens. I hold her words and imagine how my pen can form in the same shapes and swishes as hers. She is someone I deeply admire.
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I have a deep love for each essay in Sister Outsider. One that is sticking to soul on this day is her speech The Transformation of Silence into Language. It is filled with insight on life, language, and the delicate relationship between the two.
Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transform~tion of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.
For those ofus who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.
It is a beautiful speech and I hope that you have the opportunity to read it and as much of Audre Lorde’s collection as you can. Today’s post isn’t an analysis of the speech, it’s an offering to those who understand — as Audre did — the importance of alchemizing silence into expression.
Divya Victor (a poet, editor, and educator) created a resource inspired by Audre Lorde’s speech entitled “Audre Lorde’s Questionnaire to Oneself.” for students of her Creative Writing course. This questionnaire is now a part of my daily reflection and journaling routine. It has helped form and reform my writings. I created a wallpaper for my phone with this questionnaire. At any given moment I can look at my phone and contemplate on a question or two and jot down my contemplations. I shared this graphic on twitter and had some folks asking me if I could share the graphic with the. Fret not! I created new graphics with this questionnaire and it is now available online for all to see.
Click here to download Audre Lorde’s Questionnaire to Oneself wallpaper for your phone.
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider. Pg 40-44