Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde

Audre Geraldine Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a self-identified “black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who grew up in New York City to West Indian parents. Starting to write at an early age, Lorde was first published in Seventeen magazine while in high school.

As society progressed with the anti-war, feminist and civil rights movements, Audre moved from themes of love to more political and personal matters. She used her platform as a writer to spread ideas and experiences about the intersecting oppressions faced by many people.  Her poetry developed an angry aura as she became more involved in activism but developed into an emotionally-supportive outlet and connected her to the world of politics with well-known figures like Langston Hughes.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL – 1983 (Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

See also: Five Politically-Inspired Poems by Audre Lorde


Education and start of an academic career

Studying library science, she received her BA from Hunter College and her MLS from Columbia University (1961), spending one year abroad at the National University of Mexico. Lorde became a librarian for the New York public schools and worked as an English Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hunter College, her undergrad alma mater.


A prolific poet

Lorde contributed poetry to many periodicals, anthologies and other types of books. Some of her accomplishments include founding both the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in the late 1980’s with Barbara Smith and the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters which was an organization in solidarity with South African women in apartheid. Lorde also receiving multiple awards such as the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981) and multiple National Book Awards.


A battle with cancer

Audre Lorde died of breast cancer on November 17th in St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Throughout her battle, she found inspiration through her struggle as she documented in the 1980 special edition issue of the Cancer Journals. Her story included a feminist analysis of her experience with the disease and mastectomy. Before passing away, Audre changed her name to Gambda Adisa which means “Warrior” or “she who makes her meaning known.”

You may also enjoy: Poetry and Politics: Quotes by Audre Lorde


More about Audre Lorde on this site

Major Works

Autobiographies, Biographies, and Literary Criticism

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