Audrey Geraldine Lorde, one of the 20th centuries most lyrical and vibrant poets, was born in the culturally-rich environment of New York City on February 18, 1934. Audrey was the daughter of Caribbean immigrants who had settled in the New York neighborhood of Harlem, a place where thousands of African-Americans settled after living in the oppressive environments of the rural South. The so-called "Renaissance" or rebirth of the African-American culture through the strong emotional expressions of poetry, art, music and dance was essentially conceived in the roots of Harlem. Having such a profound exposure to this revolutionary movement by living in the very birthplace of the "new negro", Audrey soon decided to drop the "y" from the end of her name at a young age setting a precedent of self-determination and individuality. Despite the fact that her high school refused to print her poems for publication due to their mature content, her first piece was published in Seventeen magazine. She later graduated from Columbia University and Hunter College, where she held the prestigious position of the Thomas Hunter Chair of Literature showing a promising future in the field of poetry.
In the 1960s when she was in her early 30s, she was married and gave birth to her children, Elizabeth and Jonathan. To many people's surprise, Audre ended her marriage after eight years when she revealed her true sexual orientation of being homosexual. After working as a librarian while refining her writing skills, Lorde accepted a teaching position in Jackson, Mississippi at Tougaloo College. There she was once again exposed to a profound movement, but unlike her previous experience of growth and liberation through art, the cruel violence of the civil rights movements were expressed openly and regularly. During her time of teaching at Tougaloo, where she experienced the turbulence of the publics struggles to be released from the bondage of racism and prejudice, the connection between her creative and poetic talents and her dedication to the fight against injustice was created.
Lorde went on to be the co-founder of institutes of expression for the future generations of writers and artists such as the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which was the core of the movement to preserve and protect such associations and African-American culture when the growing desire of their destruction was on the rise. Her fight for the removal of injustice in the world spanned across the globe when she formed the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa and was featured as one of the speakers at the first national march for gay and lesbian liberation in Washington DC in 1979.
Having described herself as a "Black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Audre was given the African name Gamba Adisa, meaning "Warrior. She Who Makes Her Meaning Clear.", which reveals everything that she has held herself to be throughout her entire life. Her struggle against oppression of women, gays and lesbians, and African-Americans produced her to be a solid voice for those suffering from the judgmental and closed minds of society.
In "The Cancer Journals", Lorde documented her fourteen year battle with breast cancer, which she died from on November 17, 1992 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. She stood in defiance to the medical establishments that remained insensitive and unaccomadating to women and those of cultural differences and to the belief that a woman should hide the fact that she had breast cancer. Her solid spirit of strength, truth and equality continues to influence others through various books of poetry and prose she published.
Poems - 10 in all
Sisters in Arms
A Woman Speaks
If You Come Softly
Who Said It Was Simple
Fantasy and Conversation
Father Son and Holy Ghost
Rooming Houses are Old Women