We thoroughly enjoy when younger audiences immerse themselves in the work of poets who have come before them. A young poet recited Toi Derricotte’s “For Black Women Who Are Afraid,” and praises her work as a co-founder of Cave Canem, the literary home for black poetry.
For Black Women Who Are Afraid
A black woman comes up to me at break in the writing
workshop and reads me her poem, but she says she
can’t read it out loud because
there’s a woman in a car on her way
to work and her hair is blowing in the breeze
and, since her hair is blowing, the woman must be
white, and she shouldn’t write about a white woman
whose hair is blowing, because
maybe the black poets will think she wants to be
that woman and be mad at her and say she hates herself,
and maybe they won’t let her explain
that she grew up in a white neighborhood
and it’s not her fault, it’s just what she sees.
But she has to be so careful. I tell her to write
the poem about being afraid to write,
and we stand for a long time like that,
respecting each other’s silence.
Written by Toi Derricotte