Audre Lorde is a beloved author, poet, and activist known for her powerful works that explore themes of feminism, sexuality, race, and social justice. Widely revered for her contributions to the literary world and her activism in the civil rights movement, Lorde has become an icon in the realm of literature. Let’s take a closer look at this inspiring author’s life and work.
Audre Geraldine Lorde was born February 18th 1934 in New York City to Caribbean immigrants from Grenada. She was raised in Harlem during the Great Depression with her siblings, where she was surrounded by books from a young age. Growing up, she faced intense adversity due to her skin color, gender identity, and sexuality—all of which she would later explore within her works. Despite these struggles early on in life, she persevered and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hunter College at the age of twenty-one before going on to Columbia University for graduate school.
Throughout her life, Lorde wrote several collections of poetry, as well as prose, works exploring themes such as racism and sexism within society—all while celebrating black feminist culture. Some of her most notable works include “Coal” (1976), “Between Our Selves” (1984), “The Cancer Journals” (1980), “Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches” (1984), “Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name” (1982) amongst many others. Not only did she gain recognition from notable publications such as Time magazine but also received two National Endowment for Arts fellowships throughout her career—making it clear that Lorde left an undeniable mark on the literary world during her lifetime.
Audre Lorde is one of history’s most beloved authors whose works are still relevant today due to their timelessness and accuracy when exploring themes such as racism, sexism, sexuality, and social justice through a unique lens that celebrates black feminism culture. Her legacy will live on forever through each piece she created—reminding us all why it is so important to continue having conversations about these topics no matter what form they come in. We can only hope that more authors like Audre will continue to inspire us with their works in years to come!
“These are poems which blaze and pulse on the page.”―Adrienne Rich “The first declaration of a black, lesbian feminist identity took place in these poems, and set the terms―beautifully, forcefully―for contemporary multicultural and pluralist debate.”―Publishers Weekly “This is an amazing collection of poetry by . . . one of our best contemporary poets. . . . Her poems are powerful, often political, always lyrical and profoundly moving.”―Chuckanut Reader Magazine “What a deep pleasure to encounter Audre Lorde’s most potent genius . . . you will welcome the sheer accessibility and the force and beauty of this volume.”―Out Magazine
Self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde is an unforgettable voice in twentieth-century literature, and one of the first to center the experiences of black, queer women. This essential reader showcases her indelible contributions to intersectional feminism, queer theory, and critical race studies in twelve landmark essays and more than sixty poems―selected and introduced by one of our most powerful contemporary voices on race and gender, Roxane Gay.
Among the essays included here are:
During her lifetime, Audre Lorde (1934-1992), author of the landmark Cancer Journals, created a mythic identity for herself that retains its vitality to this day. Drawing from the private archives of the poet’s estate and numerous interviews, Alexis De Veaux demystifies Lorde’s iconic status, charting her conservative childhood in Harlem; her early marriage to a white, gay man with whom she had two children; her emergence as an outspoken black feminist lesbian; and her canonization as a seminal poet of American literature.
In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde-scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde’s philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published.
These landmark writings are, in Lorde’s own words, a call to “never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is
From the self-described ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’, these soaring, urgent essays on the power of women, poetry and anger are filled with darkness and light. Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York’s underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
Audre Lorde was not only a famous poet; she was also one of the most important radical black feminists of the past century. Her writings and speeches grappled with an impressive broad list of topics, including sexuality, race, gender, class, disease, the arts, parenting, and resistance, and they have served as a transformative and important foundation for theorists and activists in considering questions of power and social justice. Lorde embraced difference, and at each turn she emphasized the importance of using it to build shared strength among marginalized communities.
I Am Your Sister is a collection of Lorde’s non-fiction prose, written between 1976 and 1990, and it introduces new perspectives on the depth and range of Lorde’s intellectual interests and her commitments to progressive social change. Presented here, for the first time in print, is a major body of Lorde’s speeches and essays, along with the complete text of A Burst of Light and Lorde’s landmark prose works Sister Outsider and The Cancer Journals. Together, these writings reveal Lorde’s commitment to a radical course of thought and action, situating her works within the women’s, gay and lesbian, and African American Civil Rights movements. They also place her within a continuum of black feminists, from Sojourner Truth, to Anna Julia Cooper, Amy Jacques Garvey, Lorraine Hansberry, and Patricia Hill Collins.
Rich continues: “Refusing to be circumscribed by any simple identity, Audre Lorde writes as a Black woman, a mother, a daughter, a Lesbian, a feminist, a visionary; poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity. Her rhythms and accents have the timelessness of a poetry which extends beyond white Western politics, beyond the anger and wisdom of Black America, beyond the North American earth, to Abomey and the Dahomeyan Amazons. These are poems nourished in an oral tradition, which also blaze and pulse on the page, beneath the reader’s eye.”
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