In her seventh book, Audre Lorde attempts a symbolic picture of black womanhood; an effort which fails completely. The poems...

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THE BLACK UNICORN

In her seventh book, Audre Lorde attempts a symbolic picture of black womanhood; an effort which fails completely. The poems offer little in the way of an emotional center but rely, rather, on references to obscure African rituals, places, and objects. Ultimately these become ornamental instruments for keeping the poems inaccessible, as in ""Dahomey"": ""It was in Abomey that I felt/ the full blood of my father's wars/ and where I found my mother/ Seboulisia/ standing with outstretched palms hip high. . . ."" The language often verges on the incantatory, but misses its mark through flatness and a subject either incomprehensible or dull. The title poem reads: ""The black unicorn is greedy./ The black unicorn is impatient./ The black unicorn was mistaken/ for a shadow/ or symbol/ through a Cold country/ where mist painted mockeries/ of my fury. . . ."" Difficult as it is to discern what Lorde is trying to say in these lines, they are more engaging than most of her attempts at profound ethnic symbolism. The book fails because the vision is backed by a lackluster imagination, and an inability to transform external detail into emotional experience.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978