Audrey Lorde, being a “black-feminist-lesbian-mother- poet” explores her identities with vivid themes and imagery in her poem Coal. In this poem she breaks out the silence and speaks out about herself and how words can be used to give name to new feelings. In the title poem “Coal” she asserts and celebrates her blackness. This poem is a reflection of Audre Lorde’s personal relationship with society and herself as she understands them.
In her essay “Poetry Is Not a Luxury,” Lorde says that poetry is the ways we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. “As the poem starts she continues describing the process in which things and words come into being. The poem begins with an “I”, and continues in the second line to say “is the total black”. She separates herself from the total black here, indicating that her true self is not necessarily within that “total black”. The “I” she states have a double-consciousness; the coal is the outer from and from the coal, from the darkness the diamonds and lights comes into being.
Like a child coming from mother’s womb, like diamond from coal and like words coming out as sound she emerge from her black self, she comes from earth’s inside. Our true self is not colored, just like diamond it shines. She goes on explaining and naming words and how some words feel like an ill pulled tooth with a ragged edge, and how some words feel like passing crash of the sun, how some words bedevil her. These imageries indicate her personal struggle as a black woman and how society with their power names someone black or white, and judge them with their origin of being. She delivers a perspective to create a better understanding of an individual and that individual’s growth and realizations of self-worth. Because of her black color she is no less, her true self is as pure and beautiful like diamond. Even though societies label makes her angry but still she love herself, she is celebrating her marginalized identities with strong resistance and power that is hidden like diamond. ? Lorde, in her personal life, alludes to elements of “Coal” in relation to her womanhood. She explains, “For each of us as women, there is a dark place within (Coal), where our true spirit rises, ‘beautiful/ and tough as chestnut/ stanchions against our nightmare of weakness’ and of impotence” (Lorde)
Unlike man woman speaks a language of feelings and emotion, and society use the language of patriarchy, the rational language. Lorde suggest that woman and people who are marginalized by society should words and poetry as a weapon, to show resistance and to protest against the labels created by society.