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Audre Lorde

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Audre Lorde Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Early start to Writing:

Audre Lorde, essayist, poet and novelist was born on February 18, 1934. She learned to read and write at the age of 4.

Prolific Writer:

Her first poem was published in Seventeen magazine when she was a teenager. Lorde published 20 books of poetry and prose and won numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1968.

Lover of Words:

She was a librarian, a teacher, a mother, and activist and a poet. She co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in the 1980s. She once said, "Words had an energy and power and I came to respect that power early."

Lover of Women:

In 1962 Lorde married Edward Rollins. They had two children: Elizabeth and Jonathon and divorced in 1970. In 1968 Lorde became the writer-in-residence at Tougaloo college in Mississippi. Here she met her first long-term partner: Frances Clayton.

Survivor:

Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer and in 1980 published The Cancer Journals, in which she challenges traditional Western notions of illness.

Audre Lorde died of cancer on November 17, 1992.

Black Feminist:

Lorde said, "I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable."

Powerful Woman:

Lorde inspired generations of women with her unflinching dedication to her ideals. One of her famous quotes is, "When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid".

Famous Audre Lorde Quotes:

"Your Silence Will Not Protect You..."

"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."

"Without community, there is no liberation."

"Every woman I have ever known has made a lasting impression on my soul."

Uses of the Erotic:

Lorde said, "We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way."

"The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling..."

Poetry is Not a Luxury:

After someone said to her that poetry is a luxury, Lorde wrote: “For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives."

Links to Audre Lorde's books:

Cancer Journals

Sister Outsider

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

A Burst of Light

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

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