Create an Account

Shopping cart

Close

No products in the basket.

Background is a purple-tinted photograph showing a close up of an open book with the centre pages folded to form a heart shape. In front of this is a circular black frame with a head and shoulders portrait of Audre Lorde. Text reads, "Queer History. Audre Lorde." The Beyond Reflections logo appears in white in the bottom right corner.
June 30, 2022
Posted by

Audre Lorde was born in Harlem, New York the 18th of February 1934.

She was an American writer, feminist, librarian and civil rights activist. Self-described as a “black, lesbian, mother,  warrior, poet”. Lorde was an award winning poet and writer in America, whose work was known worldwide. 

 

The youngest of three daughters she had a complex and somewhat difficult relationship with Caribbean immigrant parents. Her interest in poetry began as a child already practicing, and taking poetry workshops while still a student at high school. She worked as a librarian, until 1968 when she published her first volume of poetry. Lorde became a professor of English in 1969. Furthermore, while teaching she continued to publish volumes of poetry and co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Colour Press. This was the first American publisher for women of colour and the Women’s Coalition of St Croix, an organisation dedicated to helping survivors of sexual abuse. 

 

Feminism

Lodre’s work also involved feminism. Often arguing and criticising the current wave of feminism (second wave mostly) for being racist at its core and not including women of colour. Her discussions about black feminism are still of relevance today. In 1984 while working us a visiting professor at the Free University of Berlin,  she became a key part of the Afro German movement and became a mentor to numerous German writers. She also was part of a delegation of writers invited to Cuba to discuss the impacts of the revolution.  

 

During the 80s her work also expanded into the occasional non-fiction. Creating multiple collections of speeches, essays and journal entries. While not a complete list, her work includes: The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), New York Head Shop and Museum (1974), Coal (1976), The Black Unicorn (1978), The Cancer Journals (1980),  Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1983),  Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984), A Burst of Light (1988). 

 

Lorde came out at a lesbian in the early 50s, she had an active role in The New York gay scene. She continued to speak at LGBTQ+ events and have an active role within the wider LGBTQ+ community until her death. Later in life she married a gay man, Edwin Rollins, and the pair had two children before divorcing. She was in a lesbian relationship with Professor Frances Clayton for some time, and her life partner was Dr Gloria Joseph. 

 

Audre Lorde died of breast cancer at 58 in 1992 while with her life partner in the US virgin islands. 

Reflections

Audre Lorde continues to have a fairly significant impact on the LGBTQ+ people today. Even though much of it is based in America. She has been included in numerous LGBTQ+ walks, including the Legacy Walk in Chicago and the New York National LGBTQ Walk of Honour. She has various projects and awards named after her; including health centres and organisations aimed at helping LGBTQ+ people, and especially LGBTQ+ people of colour. The award named after her is to honour works of lesbian poetry. In April 2022 a crater on Mercury was named after Lorde, and in may 8th street near Hunter College, where she studied, was renamed after her. 

 

Back to Top