Program explores 1980s Afro-American spark of Afro-German poetry and culture
On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Ika Hügel-Marshall will read from her autobiography “Invisible Woman: Growing up Black in Germany,” which details her childhood, her search for her African-American father, and her close friendship with Lorde. The reading, in English but with passages in German from the original, “Daheim unterwegs. Ein deutsches Leben,” will begin at 4 p.m. in 301 Herter Hall.
Hügel-Marshall is also co-author of the documentary film “Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984-1992,” which premiered this year at the Berlin International Film Festival and will be screened Thursday, Oct. 11 in a program beginning at 7:30 p.m. in 231 Herter Hall. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with producer/director Dagmar Schulz.
The short documentary, “Hope in My Heart – The May Ayim Story,” will precede the Lorde film. All events are free and open to the public.
“Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years (1984 to 1992)” documents Lorde’s influence on the German political and cultural scene during a decade that brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of East and West Germany. The film chronicles an untold chapter of Lorde’s life. A highly influential, award-winning African-American lesbian poet, Lorde came to live in West Berlin in the 1980s. During her stay as a visiting professor, she ignited the Afro-German movement.
Lorde’s incisive, often-angry, but always brilliant writings and speeches defined and inspired the US-American feminist, lesbian, African-American, and women-of-color movements of the 1970s and 1980s. Lorde also had a decisive impact on white women, challenging them to acknowledge the significance of their white privilege and learning to deal with difference in constructive ways.
Ayim was the most renowned Afro-German poet of her generation. Produced by Maria Binder, and co-produced by Dagmar Schulz, “Hope in My Heart – The May Ayim Story” traces the life and untimely death of the Ghanaian-German poet, academic and political personality. The film is an insightful look at how a young black woman experiences the German reunification. “Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out,” co-edited by Ayim, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1991.
Ayim wrote in the tradition of oral poetry and felt a strong connection to other black poets of the diaspora. Poetry gave her an opportunity to confront the white German society with its own prejudices. Interviews, poems and performances reveal the search for identity, how and why the term Afro-German was introduced.
The events are sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American studies, and the programs in German and Scandinavian Studies, Social Thought and Political Economy, and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, as well as the Stonewall Center and Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies.
Other sponsors include Amherst College’s departments of German and women’s and gender studies; Hampshire College’s programs in African studies and feminist studies; Mount Holyoke College’s programs in African American and African studies, gender studies and German studies; Smith College’s programs in Afro-American studies, German studies and women and gender studies; and the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.