Black-Lesbian Feminist Mother Lover Warrior Poet
Audre Lorde, a native New Yorker, was born in 1934 and an activist in the 1960s movements for civil rights, feminism, and against the Vietnam War as well as a critic of what she saw as feminism’s blindness to racial differences and fear of lesbians being involved. She earned a master’s degree in 1961 and published her first volume of poetry in 1968.
“Without community, there is no liberation.”
During that time, she also married, had two children, and divorced in 1970. She and Frances Clayton, were together until 1989 when Gloria Joseph became her partner. Audre Lorde, published nine volumes of poetry and five books of prose, and was named New York State’s Poet Laureate in 1991 by Governor Mario Cuomo, a post she retained until her death at age 58 after a 14-year struggle with breast cancer.
From the Audre Lorde Project website,
“In designating her New York State’s Poet Laureate, Governor Mario Cuomo observed: ‘Her imagination is charged by a sharp sense of racial injustice and cruelty, of sexual prejudice…She cries out against it as the voice of indignant humanity. Audre Lorde is the voice of the eloquent outsider who speaks in a language that can reach and touch people everywhere.’”
In June 1981, Audre Lorde gave the keynote presentation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Storrs, Connecticut. Her full speech is brilliant as it is timely. Please click on the link appears below.
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As our nation continues to grieve and the Black Community demands to be heard, this poems seems particularly apropos
“If You Come Softly”
If you come as softly
As wind within the trees
You may hear what I hear
See what sorrow sees.
If you come as lightly
As threading dew
I will take you gladly
Nor ask more of you.
You may sit beside me
Silent as a breath
Only those who stay dead
Shall remember death.
And if you come I will be silent
Nor speak harsh words to you.
I will not ask you why, now.
Or how, or what you do.
We shall sit here, softly
Beneath two different years
And the rich earth between us
Shall drink our tears.
From The Black Unicorn: Poems
Founded in 1994, The Aurde Lorde Project, “is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.”
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