Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

African Feminism, Poetry

Cleansing Three: Alice Walker on poems for hard times

A cleansing is necessary thus this interview with Alice Walker discussing her new poetry collection “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing”. Needing her own cleansing – she gathered together a group of family and friends with the sole purpose of dancing dancing dancing sorrows away.

It isn’t that I didn’t know how to dance before; everyone in my community knew how to dance, even those with several left feet. I just didn’t know how basic it is for maintaining balance. That Africans are always dancing (in their ceremonies and rituals) shows an awareness of this. It struck me one day, while dancing, that the marvelous moves African Americans are famous for on the dance floor came about because the dancers, especially in the old days, were contorting away various knots of stress. Some of the lower-back movements handed down to us that have seemed merely sensual were no doubt created after a day’s work bending over a plow or hoe on a slave driver’s plantation.

Wishing to honor the role of dance in the healing of families, communities, and nations, I hired a local hall and a local band and invited friends and family from near and far to come together, on Thanksgiving, to dance our sorrows away, or at least to integrate them more smoothly into our daily existence. The next generation of my family, mourning the recent death of a mother, my sister-in-law, created a spirited line dance that assured me that, though we have all encountered our share of grief and troubles, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat – no small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.

Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is the proof.

Listen to interview here