Audre Lorde: black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet


audre lorde february 18 black lesbian mother warrior poet
Audre Lorde. Image: K. Kendall

Audre Lorde died on February 18 1992. She described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” A lifelong activist, she fought tirelessly against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. 

Scroll down to watch Audre Lorde’s last reading, recorded two months before her death.

Audre Lorde said of poetry in 1968, “A poem is an expression, with love, of some piece of the world in which the poet lives.”

Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet, she lived in many worlds and brought them all to her poetry. Audre Lorde’s words resonated in a world where gentility had ossified poetry into brain-numbing irrelevance.

Poetry, when I attended school in the 60s and 70s, was all Wordsworthian wandering lonely as a cloud, floating o’er vales and hills. Poetry — and culture in general — for much of the 20th century, became too f_cking cultured.

But Audre Lorde observed and responded to the real world she lived in, including an unnerving account of a backyard abortion. That would have landed like a bomb in Wordsworth’s host of golden daffodils.

Words, we are constantly told, are powerful. But only if they find an audience. So Audrey Lorde found an audience. The powerful spoken word artist recited her works at colleges, Jewish community centres, protest marches and even at ‘Poetry in the Pub’ style events.

Her performances were both powerful and popular.

A Philadelphian Jewish community centre noted in 1985 that a reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Karl Shapiro attracted an audience of about 100 people. However, when the centre booked Audre Lorde, attendance soared to almost 400.

Celebration of difference

Audre Lorde recognised she was a ‘gay girl’ early in life. She also comprehended the intersectionality of her multi-layered identity, decades before ‘intersectionality’ became a thing.

Audre Lorde came early to the celebration of difference that our communities now take pretty much for granted. She articulated how those with power ‘othered’ people in any way ‘different’ in order to divide them.

“We speak not of human difference, but of human deviance,” she explained.

At the 1979 National Third-World Gay and Lesbian Conference, Audre Lorde spoke of the power of diversity.

“There is a wonderful diversity of groups within this conference, and a wonderful diversity between us within those groups.

“That diversity can be a generative force, a source of energy fueling our visions of action for the future. We must not let diversity be used to tear us apart from each other.”

First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978, Audre Lorde died of the disease in 1992, leaving a powerful legacy of words and thoughts.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

 

Read about more extraordinary lesbians.

famous lesbians lesbian history

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *