Audre Lorde, in full Audre Geraldine Lorde, also called Gamba Adisa or Rey Domini, (born February 18, 1934, New York, New York — died November 17, 1992, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands), was an American poet, essayist, and autobiographer known for her passionate writings on lesbian feminism and racial issues.
The daughter of Grenadan parents, Lorde attended Hunter College and received a B.A. in 1959 and a master's degree in library science in 1961. She married in 1962 and wrote poetry while working as a librarian at Town School in New York; she also taught English at Hunter College.
Lorde’s early collections of poetry include The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), and From a Land Where Other People Live (1972), which was nominated for a National Book Award. Later works, including New York Head Shop and Museum (1974), Coal (1976), and The Black Unicorn (1978), included powerful poems of protest. “I have a duty,” Lorde once stated, “to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.”
Lorde was a noted prose writer as well as poet. Her account of her struggle to overcome breast cancer and mastectomy, The Cancer Journals (1980), is regarded as a major work of illness narrative. In The Cancer Journals, Lorde confronts the possibility of death. Lorde’s 1982 novel, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, was described by its publishers as a “biomythography, combining elements of history, biography and myth.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984) collected Lorde’s nonfiction prose and has become a canonical text in Black studies, women’s studies, and queer theory. Another collection of essays, A Burst of Light (1988), won the National Book Award.
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