Litanies for Our Survival

The first poem we read together by Audre Lorde was her enduring and well-loved “A Litany for Survival.” The students wrote litanies for their own survival and the survival of their peers emphasizing Audre Lorde’s attention to the linked problematics of race and gender and her effective argumentative structure. As we discovered in class, Lorde describes the situation, then she explains the cause for that situation, then she demonstrates the paradox of the situation and makes a transcendent conclusion…all the while developing her relationship to an audience made possible by the poem itself.

To read Audre Lorde’s A Litany for Survival and see the framework we used for our own litanies click here.

Student Poems:

A Litany for Survival
by Sara Bodison
For those of us who have looked into
Hope’s fickle eyes
Struggling with self-doubt, self worth
For those of us unable to look ahead
Afraid of disappointment
Who wish in the day
For dreams dreamt in the night
Flying with broken wings
Walking with crippled legs
For those of us
Who were taught from biased books
Of our supposed unworthiness
Beaten by hardened hearts
Unloving, unkind, uncaring
Words like sharpened stilettos
Slicing at our innards
Ripping at our hearts
Longing to destroy us
The essence of us
For all of us
Standing hurt yet
Still standing unaided
Utopia is upon us.
And with our heads lifted
We gather our sliced innards
Our ripped hearts
The essence of us
And cloak ourselves in
Knowing that their ignorance
Is our bread and milk
For the meek shall soon rise
In glory in reward for
Our hurts, our pains
Our longing to be free
But they know not
What shall be their end
Yet we do and so we
Smile head lifted high
Innards cradled in our arms
So think not of today
For Utopia is upon us.

For those of us
constantly calling begging
for more
who are not satisfied
with the less
kick, scream, whine
and cry
till what you want is

For those of us
who are stamped and seared
with the view of bein spoiled
learning to share with others
but why when you can have all?
No matter if they
push you away
you have been alone anyway

For all of us
we were really meant
to be alone, selfish and greedy.

And when the checks go through
it is no money left.

But when you don’ have
the itch becomes as scratch
and you feel as if
your withdrawing form th need

So is it better to kick, scream, whine and beg
or just be grateful?


For those of us
African American women
that are within their last years of cllege
and struggling more than ever

For those of us who were
eager to start and finish college smoothly

For all of us
that are in college
almost out

are facing
last minute problems
determine to graduate
in 4 years with a BA in your field

Keep up the good work
the road was never said to be easy.


For those of us
silent people
AA people
oppressed people
women who are afraid
of our next steps, choices and decisions
are afraid that we’re not good enough
worth enough
or smart enough

For those of us
who were sexually mistreated
verbally mistreated
ignored, disrespected, misunderstood
treated less than and less of

For all of us
who always want more than we are given
never satisfied
but race to find something
beyond the end of the rainbow

So we can be at everlasting peace.


My Litany for Survival

To my people

Tugged in different directions

Making choices

But not choosing

To my people

Sacrifices of their families


So the tunnel will be easier

For those behind

To my people

Hiding in the darkness

Afraid of the light

Afraid it will expose

What they have been taught

Is there

So my people hide away

From freedom

Thinking themselves safe

And they hoped

We would stay there


And when we work we are afraid

Our best is their mediocre

When we do not work we are afraid

Our best will never be seen

When we pray we are afraid

It is not heard

When we do not pray we are afraid

Our silence is noted

When we believe we are afraid

Of others

When we do not believe

We are afraid of ourselves

My people

Learn to use fear

So GOD is able

to use you.

Published on June 10, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. That’s a beautiful poem!

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