Feminism Is: Audre Lorde— Fighting Oppression with Poetry

November 28, 2014

Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde in Austin, TX, 1980, Photo K. Kendall, from Wikipedia

AUDRE LORDE, who titled herself “black, lesbian, mother,warrior, poet” at an African naming ceremony shortly before her death from liver cancer in the Virgin Islands in 1992.

Daughter of immigrants from Grenada, Lorde was born in Harlem in 1934, was married and bore two children before she became openly lesbian and radically womanist. With Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga, she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.

She published several volumes of poetry as well as non-fiction, including The Erotic as Power, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches and The Cancer Journals. At the time of her passing she was the Poet Laureate of the State of New York.

Lorde angered certain white feminists by calling white women “agents of oppression.” And indeed, when I had the privilege of meeting Ms. Lorde in New York City, her first question to me was “What exactly are you doing to combat racism at William Paterson University?” Thereafter, you may be sure, I redoubled my efforts in that regard!

Read some of her more famous quotes on Brainy Quotes.

Read her bio on the Poetry Foundation’s website.

Visit the Audre Lorde Project website.

 

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Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott is the author or co-author of 13 books, including several on women and religion. She is a winner of the Lambda Literary Award (in 2002) and has published numerous essays on literary topics in various scholarly journals. In 1975, she spoke at the first national gathering of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in Washington, D.C., and delivered plenary speeches at almost every gathering of the organization over the next 40 years. She has lectured widely on lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights and has also been active in the transgender cause. Mollenkott is married to Judith Suzannah Tilton and has one son and three granddaughters. She earned her B.A. from Bob Jones University, her M.A. from Temple University, and her Ph.D. from New York University. She received a Lifetime Achievement award from SAGE, Senior Action in a Gay Environment, a direct-service and advocacy group for seniors in New York City in 1999. At age 85, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott continues to use her doctorate in English to share insights with folks who visit the EEWC and Mollenkott websites, and with elderly people in the Cedar Creek educational programs. She has recently taught an Elderhostel course on the poems of the Rev. Dr. John Donne, and is now preparing a Fall course on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. She deeply regrets that her severe arthritis forbids her presence at recent and wonderful street protests.

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