Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Book Review

lgbtq community matchmaking

Audre Lorde’s memoir Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is a memoir written by a feminist poet. It chronicles her infancy and adolescence in New York City, as well as her early encounters with feminist poetry and her entry into the feminist political movement. The plot weaves its way through school, job, love, and other life lessons. Although the book’s primary design is ambiguous, Audre Lorde takes pains to investigate the layers of female connection as she recalls her mother, sisters, acquaintances, coworkers, and lovers—women who shaped her.
Lorde’s establishment in poetry is undoubtedly visible here. While some portions are straightforward, others are eloquently crafted or sometimes contain entire poems. Due to her status as both a poet and a theorist, you might be a little hesitant to pick this one up. This isn’t a book to read quickly; like a poem, it’s jam-packed with things to ponder. Some sentences are difficult to comprehend, but that is the nature of poetry reading.
Lorde’s insights are frequently timeless or frustratingly still current comments, while other sections are solidly entrenched in the period in which she was growing up. She appears to have had a colorful and enviable childhood at times, going to Mexico alone for the pleasure of it, amusing a rotating cast of down-on-their-luck people crammed into a room, experimenting with drugs and relationships. While the next page will deliver something absolutely horrible. Working a poor job as a teenager is understandable, but having one expose you to dangerous quantities of radioactivity is not.
Polyamory experimentation, unending lesbian analyzing, and relationship misunderstanding might have all been talked about in the past. It’s a very different story if your girlfriend is undergoing shock therapy for her mental illness. It was strange to watch historical events like McCarthyism, which resulted in the FBI showing up at her home several times, happen in her life on a regular basis.
From Lorde’s mother through long-term romances to fleeting friendships or disagreements, the structure of Zami is a trip through the women who influenced her life. It was fascinating to watch how Lorde’s sexual orientation was addressed.
This isn’t a “coming out” story–no there’s sad announcement to her mother, no agonizing over a label–rather, it’s a progressive examination of her affections towards women. Her statement about lesbians in the book are still relevant.
She says, “Meeting other lesbians was very difficult, except for the bars which I did not go to because I did not drink. I read the Daughters of Bilitis newsletter and wondered where all the other gay-girls were. Often, just finding out another woman was gay was enough of a reason to attempt a relationship, to attempt some connection in the name of love without first regard to how ill-matched the two of you might really be. Such were the results of loneliness…”
Zami is a difficult book to read. Lorde had to go through a lot, including a risky illegal abortion. Pedophilia, self-mutilation, racism, incest fantasy, and homophobia are all graphic in the book. It’s also a novel that demands that you read it slowly and carefully.

Related Articles