Audre Geraldine Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was a self-identified “black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” The daughter of West Indian parents, she grew up in New York City. Her love of writing took root at an early age, and she 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 about intersecting oppressions and experiences faced especially by women of color.
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
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, she 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
- Poetry & Politics: Quotes by Audre Lorde
- 5 Reasons to Love Audre Lorde
- Five Politically-Inspired Quotes by Audre Lorde
- 10 Thought-Provoking Quotes from Sister Outsider
- Our Dead Behind Us (1986)
- The Black Unicorn (1978)
- A Burst of Light (1988)
- Coal (1976)
- New York Head Shop and Museum (1974)
- From a Land Where Other People Live (1973)
- The Cancer Journals
- Sister Outsider
Autobiographies, Biographies, and Literary Criticism
- Audre Lorde: Radical Feminist, Writer & Civil Rights Activist
- Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde
- Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982)
- Audre Lorde: The Poetry Foundation
- The Audre Lorde Project
- Illinois University Publication
- The Lorde Concordance: A Traveling Resurrection of Audre (Our) Lorde
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