(Interracial Love and Marriage playlist) **Above: A photo of William Shakespeare’s Othello produced by Frantic Assembly, a physical theatre company, at the Lyric Theatre in London, England, 2015 (source)
“Otra estirpe” (Another Race) by Delmira Agustini (1886-1914; Montevideo, Uruguay; Modernist period) [tr. Karl Kirchwey]
– from These Are Not Sweet Girls: Poetry by Latin American Women
Eros, yo quiero guiarte, Padre ciego…
Pido a tus manos todopoderosas
¡su cuerpo excelso derramado en fuego
sobre mi cuerpo desmayado en rosas!
La eléctrica corola que hoy despliego
brinda el nectario de un jardín de Esposas;
para sus buitres en mi carne entrego
todo un enjambre de palomas rosas.
Da a las dos sierpes de su abrazo, crueles,
mi gran tallo febril… Absintio, mieles,
viérteme de sus venas, de su boca…
¡Así tendida, soy un surco ardiente
donde puede nutrirse la simiente
de otra Estirpe sublimemente loca!
Eros, let me lead you, Blind Father…
And at your almighty hands I ask
for his prodigal body arrayed in fire
covering mine, pale among petals of damask!
Today the electric corolla I unfurl
offers the attar of a garden of Wives;
for his vultures in my flesh, their fee,
I give up a whole cote of pint doves.
Give my feverish stem to the twinned cruel serpent
of his embrace…Absinthe and honey spent
in me for his utter veins and from his mouth…
I am one ardent furrow stretched
where the seed of another race will flourish
feeding madness and beauty both!
Spanish is the lovin’ tongue,
Soft as music, light as spray.
‘Twas a girl I learnt it from,
Livin’ down Sonora way.
I don’t look much like a lover,
Yet I say her love words over
Often when I’m all alone –
‘Mi amor, mi corazon.’
Nights when she knew where I’d ride
She would listen for my spurs,
Fling the big door open wide,
Raise them laughin’ eyes of her
And my heart would nigh stop beatin’
When I heard her tender greetin’,
Whispered soft for me alone
‘Mi amor! mi corazon!’
Moonlight in the patio,
Old Señora noddin’ near,
Me and Juana talkin’ low
So the Madre couldn’t hear –
How those hours would go a-flyin;!
And too soon I’d hear her sighin’
In her little sorry tone –
‘Adios, mi corazon!’ (…)
“Warning to Young Bright Sisters/White AM. Culture 101A” by Michélle T. Clinton
– from In the Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers
Once, a pre-med white boy laced his fingers into mine
& introduced me to foreign films, espresso in cafes, & existentialism.
As far away from niggerism as I could get, I ran to him,
Relieved to be caught by his thighs and fucked,
Dry, for hours & hours & hours.
Hardened black faces filled the ceramic cups
& picked up the tips he left. I brooded,
& after Camus had been exhausted I suggested
Ntozake, Jean Toomer, Baraka.
“Why are you so angry?” he told me, & dropped my hand
When black men passed us on the street;
“Where do these moods come from?” (…)
“Sherbet” by Cornelius Eady (b. 1954; Rochester, New York, US; professor, co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation for black poets)
– from The Garden Thrives: Twentieth-Century African-American Poetry
The problem here is that
this isn’t pretty, the
Sort of thing which
Can be easily dealt with
With words. After
A horror story to sit,
A black man with
A white wife in
The middle of a
Sunday afternoon at
The Jefferson Hotel in
Richmond, VA, and wait
Like a criminal for service
From a young white waitress
Who has decided that
This looks like something
She doesn’t want
To be a part of. (…)
Photo of the musical Black Nativity, written by Langston Hughes, which uses Christmas carols sung in a gospel style; produced by Theatre Horizon in Norristown, Philadelphia, US, 2015 (source)
“Cross” by Langston Hughes (1902-1967; Missouri; New York, US; social activist, columnist, playwright, essayist, novelist, short story writer, children’s book writer; Harlem Renaissance) – from The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry
My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I’m going to die,
Being neither white nor black?
“Noon Talk at Georgia’s Coffee Shop” by Allison Joseph (b. 1967; London, UK / Toronto, Canada / Bronx, New York, US; professor, literary magazine editor)
– from Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century
What am I supposed to do
when my husband leaves me for a blond—
dye my hair, end up like
some Tina Turn reject?
If it’s a white woman he wants,
Let him have her, deal with all
The threats and names and ugly
talk. I nod while Georgia speaks,
keep my mouth shut up,
scared to let her know
I’d seen her husband on the street—
his new woman wasn’t white. (…)
Black maid, complain not that I fly,
When Fate commands antipathy:
Prodigious might that union prove,
Where Night and Day together move,
And the conjunction of our lips
Not kisses make, but an eclipse,
In which the mixed black and white
Portends more terror than delight.
Yet if my shadow thou wilt be,
Enjoy thy dearest wish. But see
Thou take my shadow’s property,
That hastes away when I come nigh.
Else stay till death hath blinded me,
And then I will bequeath myself to thee.
My lips came with a caravan of slaves
That belonged to the Grand Sanussi.
In Al-Jaghbub he freed them.
They still live in the poor section of Benghazi
Near the hospital where I was born.
They never meant to settle
In Tokara those Greeks
Whose eyebrows I wear
–then they smelled the wild sage
And declared my country their birthplace.
The Knights of St. John invaded Tripoli.
The residents of the city
Sought help from Istanbul. In 1531
The Turks brought along my nose. (…)
If I could find a kingdom
Between midday and midnight
I would go forth and proclaim
My mixed blood to the core
I the child of all races
soul of India, Europe,
my identity is branded
in the cry of Mozambique (…)
Painting by Charles Christian Nahl reproduced for John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: Celebrated California Bandit (source)
“The Stolen White Girl” by John Rollin Ridge (1827-1867; New Echota, Georgia, US; Native American novelist [Cherokee], newspaper editor and writer) – from American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, Vol. 2
The prairies are broad, and the woodlands are wide
And proud on his steed the wild half-breed may ride,
With the belt round his waist and the knife at his side.
And no white man may claim his beautiful bride.
Though he stole her away from the land of the whites,
Pursuit is in vain, for her bosom delights
In the love that she bears the dark-eyed, the proud,
Whose glance is like starlight beneath a night-cloud.
Far down in the depths of the forest they’ll stray,
Where the shadows like night are lingering all day;
Where the flowers are springing up wild at their feet,
And the voices of birds in the branches are sweet. (…)
“Midnight Vapor Light Breakdown” by Betsy Sholl (b. 1945; Lakewood, Ohio, US; professor; former poet laureate of Maine)
– from Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race
This ladies’ room fluorescence will not be ignored,
this pure malicious glare guessing my age,
not even asking for money. It tells me
I’m the only white person in the club, and it’s
a shame I’m so pasty and unadorned, so nearly fog
only pity can make a move this evening, a bad light
to be left in. Two dimes, no phone book, and my car
broken down. Walking out alone, I am myself a beam
in everyone’s eye, calling attention to something no one
leaning against the Rainbow Lounge intended this evening. (…)
“those i love are sometimes white” by Imani Tolliver (Los Angeles, California, US; lecturer, political activist) – from Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century
it is hard
getting on the train
seeing the eyes stare back at me
with some kind of hatred and feared reflexion
i breathe deep and read this book of poetry, french
and believe that god
knows i try to forgive
find my young knees
looking for the universal love that we supposed to get
this one sister
praying for one brother to love (…)
East is East an’ West is West,
You heahs de People say,
But when you mixes East an’ South
De devil is to pay.
Mabel worked in the hand laudry of Lou Sing…
And her friends laughted derisively
When she married the little yellow man
Whose parables glittered with epigrams.
Along Eight Avenue
Wise old women said
The marriage would turn out badly
Because it was the marriage of African and China (…)
“Miscegenation” by Natasha Trethewey (b. 1966; Gulfport, Mississippi, US; professor)- from Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century
In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.
They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.
A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi. (…)
“The Dog” by Charles Kenneth (C. K.) Williams (1936-2016; Newark, New Jersey, US; literary critic, translator of Greek and Polish literature)
– from The Body Electric: America’s Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review
Except for the dog, that she wouldn’t have him put away,
wouldn’t let him die, I’d have liked her.
She was handsome, busty, chunky, early middle-aged, very black, with a stiff,
that flurried up in me a mix of warmth and sexual apprehension neither
of which, to tell the truth,
I tried very hard to nail down: she was that much older and in those days
there was still the race thing.
This was just the time of civil rights: the neighborhood I was living in
In the narrow streets, the tiny three-floored houses they called father-son-
which had been servants’ quarters first, workers’ tenements, then slums,
still were, but enclaves of us,
beatniks and young artists, squatted there and commerce between every-
one was fairly easy.
Her dog, a grinning mongrel, rib and knob, gristle and grizzle, wasn’t
The trouble was that he was ill, or the trouble more exactly was that I
had to know about it. (…)
“Causality and Chance in Love” by Karen Press
“For the White Lady Holding Me” by Crystal Williams