Audre Lorde

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde

Audre Geraldine Lorde (February 18, 1934 in Harlem, New York City - November 17, 1992) was a writer, poet and activist.


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Bibliography
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 External links


Lorde was born in New York City to parents of West Indian heritage; Frederick Byron Lorde and Linda Gertrude Belmar Lorde. Lorde was nearsighted and legally blind. The youngest of three daughters, she grew up in Harlem, hearing her mother's stories about the West Indies. She learned to talk while she learned to read, at the age of four. Her mother taught her to write during this time. She wrote her first poem when she was in the eighth grade. After graduating from Hunter College High School, she attended Hunter College from 1954 to 1959, graduating with a bachelors degree. While studying library science, Lorde supported herself working various odd jobs: factory worker, ghost writer, social worker, X-ray technician, medical clerk, and arts and crafts supervisor.

In 1954, she spent a pivotal year as a student at the National University of Mexico, a period described by Lorde as a time of affirmation and renewal because she confirmed her identity on personal and artistic levels as a lesbian and poet. On her return to New York, Lorde went to college, worked as a librarian, continued writing, and became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich Village. Lorde furthered her education at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in library science in 1961. During this time she also worked as a librarian at Mount Vernon Public Library and married attorney Edwin Rollins; they later divorced in 1970 after having two children, Elizabeth and Jonathan. In 1966, Lorde became head librarian at Town School Library in New York City where she remained until 1968.

During a year in residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Lorde met Frances Clayton, the woman who was to be her romantic partner for 22 years - until Lorde's death from breast cancer. Lorde died November 17, 1992 in St. Croix after a 14 year struggle with the disease. In her own words, she was a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet".[1] Before she died, in an African naming ceremony, Lorde took the name Gamba Adisa which means "Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known".


Lorde’s poetry was published regularly during the 1960s: in Langston Hughes's 1962 New Negro Poets, USA; in several foreign anthologies; and in black literary magazines. During this time she was politically active in the civil rights, antiwar, and feminist movements. Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities (1968), was published by the Poet's Press and edited by Diane di Prima, a former classmate and friend from Hunter College High School. Dudley Randall, a poet and critic, asserted in his review of the book that "[Lorde] does not wave a black flag, but her blackness is there, implicit, in the bone." Lorde's second volume, Cables to Rage (1970), which was mainly written during her tenure at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, addresses themes of love, betrayal, childbirth, and the complexities of raising children. It is particularly noteworthy for the poem "Martha", in which Lorde poetically confirms her homosexuality: "we shall love each other here if ever at all." Later books continued her political aims in gay rights, and feminism.

Lorde was named State Poet of New York from 1991 to 1992.[2]


  • The First Cities (1968)
  • Cables to Rage (1970)
  • From a Land Where Other People Live (1973)
  • New York Head Shop and Museum (1974)
  • Coal (1976)
  • Between Our Selves (1976)
  • The Black Unicorn (1978)
  • The Cancer Journals (1980)
  • Chosen Poems: Old and New (1982)
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1983)
  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984)
  • Our Dead Behind Us (1986)
  • The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance (1993)

See also

  • Audre Lorde Project, an organization in New York City named for Audre Lorde
  • Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, an organization in New York City named for Michael Callen and Audre Lorde.
  • Teaching for social justice


  1. ^ Tharps, Lori L.. "Speaking the Truth", Essence, September, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-03-17. 
  2. ^ Audre Lorde at Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  • Biography
  • A Tribute to Audre Lorde
  • Voices From the Gaps: Audre Lorde
  • The Edge of Each Other's Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde - a documentary by Jennifer Abod
  • Audre Lorde's Life - Modern American Poetry
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