| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian, feminist, warrior
poet, was the youngest of three daughters born to Linda and Frederic Byron
Lorde, who immigrated to New York City from Granada, the West Indies. Lorde’s
parents came to the United States with two plans. First they hoped to reap the
financial rewards of hard work, and then they planned to return to their island
home in grand style. But with the stockmarket crash of 1929, they were forced
to abandon both dreams.
a child, Lorde was inarticulate; in fact, she didn’t speak until she was five
years old. Even when she began talking, she spoke in poetry; that is, she would
recite a poem in order to express herself. Hence, poetry literally became her
language of communication, and she believed that “the sensual content of life
was masked and cryptic, but attended in well-coded phrases.” She also learned
to see herself as “a reflection of [her] mother’s secret poetry as well as of
her hidden anger.” Giving expression to this reflection has been the impetus
for much of her work.
attended Hunter High School and received the B.A. in 1959 from Hunter College
and the M.L.S. in 1961 from Columbia University. In 1962 she married Edwin
Ashley Rollins and gave birth to two children: Elizabeth and Jonathan. The
marriage ended in divorce. In 1968 Lorde decided to become a full-time poet,
leaving her job as head librarian of the City University of New York to become
a poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Before her death, Lorde
was Poet and Professor of English at Hunter College of the City University of
insisted that she wrote to fulfill her responsibility “to speak the truth as
[she felt] it, and to attempt to speak it with as much precision and beauty as
possible.” She described her life’s work in terms of survival and teaching, two
themes that dominate her prose and verse. Her power and high productivity arose
from her living out these ambitions by confronting her own mortality, her own
fear and the opposition of those who tried to silence her.
of her work resonates with courage, in which she advises us “Not to be afraid
of difference. To be real, tough, loving.” “Even if you are afraid,” she adds,
“do it anyway because we learn to work when we are tired, so we can learn to
work when we are afraid.” In Lorde’s later works her vision arises from
celebrating the legends of strong black women, especially her mother. In Zami:
A New Spelling of My Name she combines autobiography, history, and myth to
create a new literary form that she calls, “biomythography.” Zami and Our Dead
Behind Us, especially, signify the “strong triad of grandmother mother
daughter,” and “recreate in words the women who helped give [her] substance.”
They are her “mattering core”; they invigorate Lorde’s visions of life and art
George Washington University
In the Heath Anthology
Never Take Fire from a Woman
Walking Our Boundaries
The Master's Tools
The Art of Response
The First Cities
Cables to Rage
From a Land Where Other People Live
New York Head Shop and Museum
The Black Unicorn
The Erotic as Power
The Cancer Journals
Chosen Poems: Old and New
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
I Am Your Sister
Our Dead Behind Us
A Burst of Light: Essays
Undersong: Chosen Poems, Old and New
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Contains several essays about Lorde and the texts of three poems.
A biographical sketch.
Audre Lorde on Being a Black Lesbian Feminist
A brief interview conducted by Karla Hammond.
The Audre Lorde Project Inc.
Information about the Project housed by the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, and Transgender People of Color Communities.
Voices from the Gaps
A biography, criticism, aselected bibliography, and links.