What I am Reading Now…
Noor Afshan Mirza
As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and non rational knowledge*
Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider was one of the first books of essays and speeches from a black woman poet, activist, writer, healer, seer that I read. The book was gifted to me by a very close friend at the time. It is a book that I read in one sitting, so hungry for the words, and the connection. It is also a book that I have gifted to many persons. It is a book that I have re-read so many times, and keep returning to at different points in my life journey. The essays Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power and Poetry Is Not a Luxury are etched into my auric field. Books are, for me, like people: they come into your life at certain times for a specific reason, exchange, energy, and shift in consciousness.
As a non-black woman of colour I grew up in a completely white rural society, exposed to second wave (white) British feminism only as an art student (in London) in the early 90s. I did not have access to any black or brown women’s voices, in any part of my education. So now, as a woman in my wisdom years, I am back to the place I was as an “angry” rebellious teenager, self-educating myself and undoing the unconscious bias of white (supremacy) colonial power. In the words of Tamela J. Gordon “We can’t all be black feminists. It’s something you’re born into, it isn’t acquired. However, we can all and should adopt a black feminist agenda. When black women win, mankind wins.”
I visualise in fragments and love to collage. I both write and think in unstructured sentences. Communication: it is both a struggle and a pleasure to be legible. My writing is mostly visual in the form of filmmaking. I get a lot out of music, lyrically: I’m listening a lot to Little Simz, Agent Sasco, Alice Coltrane, Burna Boy, NX Panther. I’m an avid reader of poetry, it takes me to places where I can journey. I am a committed amateur boxer and Kundalini yoga student and have recently set up my own company to act as a football agent for talented players from the global south. The esoteric and healing arts are also a passion of mine. I am Piscean Sun, Capricorn ascendent and my moon is in Libra. As an artist of mixed class, caste and racial heritage, I have been on a long journey of decolonising myself, my education, my body, and my intimate relationships. I have simultaneously been unlearning and self-educating. I’ve always got a good book or two on me.
* Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
Noor Afshan Mirza is an artist and writer, often working as an artist-duo with long term collaborator Brad Butler. Known for their Film and Video practice and exhibition making, Mirza and Butler have been co-directing award-winning artists’ Film and Video works for 23 years. Their awards and commissions include nomination for the Film London Jarman Award in 2012, The Artes Mundi Award 2015, and they were winners of Artist Film International 2015 and the Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual artists 2015. Their work has been commissioned by Artangel, the Hayward gallery, The Sydney Biennale, Film London, Film and Video Umbrella, the Serpentine Gallery and The Walker Arts Centre.
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Audre Lorde (Ten Speed Press, 1984)
GREY Area, Little Simz (Age 101 Music, 2019)
Uncut Funk: A Contemplative Dialogue, bell hooks & Stuart Hall (Routledge, 2017)
Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Duke University Press, 2016)
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, A Biomythography, Audre Lorde (Persephone Press, 1982)