Listen: Minneapolis poet Jerri Alexander

MPR’s Kate Williams talks with Minneapolis poet Jerri Alexander, who shares poetry from her book "Hurt Comes and Goes: Poetry of a Black American Woman."


(00:00:00) Before I arrived here in Minneapolis, I was at a point in my life where there was. No hope for me, you know, there was no up no down. No nothing. So

(00:00:11) after speaking to my aunt who

(00:00:14) inspired me to write it was to get up. There was no room for

(00:00:18) failure. And so with her and her personality and her Vibes feeling me that night needing somebody and she called and she just inspired me. She's woken write it down. So I do it was This is a therapy for me. Most of the things I talk about in the book. I

(00:00:33) think our men are they deal around me and in some form? You know

(00:00:37) that think that's from the hurt that was

(00:00:42) brought on by them. You know, I think hearing that the men here in

(00:00:46) Minneapolis are

(00:00:49) Gone,

(00:00:49) you see the body but the man is not there. Okay, they're not really here for the sister for the black woman.

(00:00:57) Should we go on into I woman? Yes, this is me. I

(00:01:06) women there's a record and many other items that use the quote. I woman

(00:01:11) but to express women in general conversation is leaving out the bread and butter.

(00:01:16) Let's talk about woman

(00:01:18) black woman. I am a black woman. I am a woman black

(00:01:26) I wake now to the thoughts that are within

(00:01:28) me the fullness of flows from head to toe the desires the struggle the hate but It's important love the love for self for my man my family and your family black woman is black woman with your love for Humanity. I heard I cry I beg I submit I play a part that is so vital to this universe that she would fail without me woman black woman. I'm a source of energy a vital force. I bore the fruits that have produced for this world. I've had to sell my soul to the highest bidder for the

(00:02:09) cause but that cause is and was

(00:02:12) me woman

(00:02:15) black woman without the ability to be in and suffer to cry to her to hate and love I could not have realized the Fulfillment of being his black woman woman black the strong black woman that you're projecting this image of what kind of Are you trying to say even here in a poem that you wrote two little girls two little black women? I'm chained. It really say to my little sister's

(00:02:46) is that you are somebody I guess it's been said a lot of long time and I find that even today

(00:02:53) this poem was inspired by

(00:02:54) one of my girlfriend's daughter that was here the lives in Minneapolis. She was watching TV one day and she saw this dark colored woman sighs shading down the steps real sexy and

(00:03:03) she's and it was white man standing. End up looking at her and she says I don't know what she's doing that for. He don't want her until her mother said why you say that she said because she's black and right then because I knew as a child myself I used to sit and think you know, I sure wish I was white because I would have pretty close. I wish I had was quite because I live in a beautiful house, you know and have

(00:03:23) money and food every day, you know, so I'm saying to my little sister's even though, you know, even though you don't have all those things, you know,

(00:03:31) you're somebody you're black. You're beautiful you you do have and you

(00:03:35) I

(00:03:35) have a choice one day. You know, it

(00:03:38) still don't know how long one day takes

(00:03:42) little girl. Little girl you beautiful person. So black and fair with that natural combing your hair little girl black as can be so so pretty white teeth. They clean when you smile little girl darkest night, please don't wish that you were

(00:03:58) white the color you are his chest right

(00:04:02) little girl. You may have curls or straight hair that swing and swirl and you may not have the best of clothes and sometimes your socks are full of holes your stomach trying and growl, but just remember all the way.

(00:04:13) They're not too long a

(00:04:14) Faraway you will grow up and have your say

(00:04:18) you will have that right to make your choice as to how this country changed his stance. So that other girls with black skin and natural curls won't go through those same old pains while this country plays political games little black girl. Thank you. How do you feel when you write what is writing do for you? I can just see you change it. Was it here reading when I read some of the

(00:04:43) things that I put on paper and I think about women not just me, but I can look back to my grandmother and my mother and my aunt, you know, the whole total the older generation as the how they have to suffer for for me, you know for black people where we struggle for the family for not just our family but for all our families, you know, and I we were so forgiving to other people

(00:05:11) to the other races, you know,

(00:05:13) and all the things that we went through. I think when I write and I think about these and read them I heard I get sister's name of the book her comes and goes.


Digitization made possible by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>