Audre Lorde: Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet
“My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds,” Lorde said.
Though she had gotten married, had two children, and was divorced, she identified as a lesbian and had relationships with women throughout her life.
Audre Lorde: The Poet
Inspired by poets such as John Keats, Edna St. Millay, and Helene Margaret, Lorde began writing poetry at age twelve.
She was the first black student at Hunter High School, a public school for intellectually gifted girls. There, she wrote for the school newspaper.
Her first poem, “Spring,” was published in Seventeen Magazine in 1951.
After graduating from high school, she attended Hunter College and surrounded herself with leftist thinkers and lesbian friends. She joined the Harlem Writers Guild where she found opportunity for literary expression.
Lorde wrote mostly love poems at the start, but her work found its focus in her experiences during the civil unrest of the 1960s. This, together with her sexuality, made her create more political statements.
Audre Lorde: The Warrior
When Senator Jesse Helms, a conservative senator, attacked her work, she said: “Jesse Helms’s objection to my work is not about obscenity, or even about sex. It is about revolution and change.”
Likewise, she fought the marginalization of such categories like “lesbian” and “black woman,” even as she sought to empower her readers to react to the prejudice in their own lives.
Fueled by her anger, she wrote poetry about racial injustice as well as feminist issues. Her writings were cited for their sincerity, perception, sincerity, and depth of feeling.
Audre Lorde: The Black Woman
As Lorde’s reputation grew, she went extensively around parts of the world– Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean– to visit and identify with the oppressed people that she met.
Lorde also helped with the founding of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the world’s first publishing company run by women of color.
Later on, she was lauded for The Cancer Journals, her account on overcoming breast cancer and mastectomy that she connected to women’s empowerment and emotional healing.
She died of liver cancer in 1992. But before she died, she changed her name in an African naming ceremony to Gamba Adisa, or “Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.”