Archive for the ‘African-American poets’ Category

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Sheila Fisher (sonia Brand-Fisher)

Please note: Sheila Fisher’s will be on Woman-Stirred Radio on Thursday, March 29th, at 4:15 eastern.

Today on Woman-Stirred Radio, we start off at 4:15 with Sheila Fisher’s new translation of the Canterbury Tales, by  Geoffrey Chaucer and then move into the twenty-first century with African American lesbian-feminist poet, Stephanie Byrd, whose work is a powerful challenge to the ubiquitous and insidious racism and misogyny—the double burden of oppression—that continues to haunt the lives of African-American women—or any woman who does not fit into the category of white and male hegemony.

Stephania Byrd

And what does a privileged white guy from London who was born in the early 1340s have in common with a black lesbian-feminist American? Ostensively none—except if we consider the creative force and social conditions that underpin the connective threads. Chaucer was “the most sophisticated voice for the kinds of intricately varied topics, themes, and content that make their way… into medieval poetry” (Fisher, xvi).

Stephania Byrd‘s poetry “locates [her] in a particular place to excavate” (Enszer 2012) and thread together the commonalities of experience in her time and place. If Chaucer told tales of enforced gender roles, theocracy, and economic and political conditions that were determined and enforced by men, then Byrd deconstructs the compromised status of Black, lesbian-feminists—enforced by men but actively being dismantled by women. And if Chaucer’s work “meant adopting and adapting previous written authority” (xxxiii), for Stephania Byrd, writing and making literature is claiming the right, if not the moral imperative, NOT to adopt or adapt to previous authority.

While Chaucer’s pilgrims seek redemption and safety within the bounds of the dominant Christian culture, Byrd looks beyond the borders of dominant white male Christian culture to break free of it. Both writers, however, question the order of things in the world and the authority through which world order is maintained.

The kitchen is inviting
The summer epochal
It’s a shame Burley
died such a way
Hanging there
the flesh being plucked
from his bones                  (Byrd)

           But since you speak now of such gentleness
As descends to you down from old richness,
So that, because of it, you’re gentle men,
Such arrogance is just not worth a hen.       (Chaucer)

So please join us today from 4 to 6 p.m. on Woman-Stirred Radio for two very different and yet prescient discussions with Sheila Fisher at 4:15 and Stephania Byrd at 5:00 (eastern. Want to join in the conversations? Call the air-studio at 802.454.7762, or email with your questions and comments.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.