According to the Huffington Post, there will be a memorial celebration for her on May 4 (6 p.m. , at the eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago), during which poets will read her work, and I hope to attend it.
*Though one obituary lists her age as 69, this site lists her birth year as 1945.
In honor and memory of her, I'm posting one of her poems below. Like so many of her poems, it focuses on the lives and experiences of black women, speaking directly about and to them. As the poem suggests, the pressures on black women are tremendous, and one of the results is a refrain of the poem, "we are lonely"; this isn't news, but Rodgers' skill endows it with power and beauty, undercutting the pain with sly humor and a cold recognition that one answer to this plight is acknowledge of the pain, of the stresses and struggles, the coping behavior and its results--one answer is knowledge, and recognition, that this is what so many black women go through, and it's that knowledge that Rodgers's work so often imparts, in its distinctive way. And so:
Poem for Some Black Women
i am lonely, all the people i know i know too well there was comfort in that at first but now we know each others miseries too well. we are lonely women, who spend time waiting for occasional flings we live with fear. we are lonely. we are talented, dedicated, well read BLACK, COMMITTED, we are lonely, we understand the world problems Black women’s problems with Black men but all we really understand is lonely. when we laugh, we are so happy to laugh we cry when we laugh we are lonely. we are busy people always doing things fearing getting trapped in rooms loud with empty… yet knowing the music of silence/hating it/hoarding it loving it/treasuring it, it often birthing our creativity we are lonely being soft and being hard supporting our selves, earning our own bread soft/hard/hard/soft knowing that need must not show will frighten away knowing that we must walk back-wards nonchalantly on our tip-toeness into happiness, if only for stingy moments we know too much we learn to understand everything, to make too much sense out of the world, of pain of lonely… we buy clothes, we take trips, we wish, we pray, we meditate, we curse, we crave, we coo, we caw, we need ourselves sick, we need, we need we lonely we grow tired of tears we grow tired of fear we grow tired but must always be soft and not too serious… not too smart not too bitchy not too sapphire not too dumb not too not too not too a little less a little more add here detract there .lonely.
Copyright © Carolyn M. Rodgers, 1992, 2010. All rights reserved.