Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some Essential Reading: Works by Audre Lorde

image of book cover of The Cancer Journals is from here

I found this on and thought I'd post it here for y'all. (Click on the title to link back.) I have to say that The Cancer Journals is rarely mentioned as essential feminist reading, but, for me, it surely is. Along with her poems and essays and speeches, The Cancer Journals offers critical understanding of the experience of battling life-threatening illness and Audre uniquely notes how race, sexuality, gender, and other dimensions of political being are forged and enforced by CRAP to try and ensure no Black women survive. 
Her discussions of surgery and prosthetic devices were and are tremendously important to me, and her courage to speak out about these issues, at a time when no one was, is astounding. And, sadly, we live in a time when no one is speaking out about this matter of wearing prosthetic breast-forms, which are never, ever women's breasts: the presence of implants, reconstructed breasts, and inserts into the bra do not "make someone a woman". She also notes the chilling realities of how environmental terrorism, along with white and male supremacy, is part of women's lives. Chemicals manufactured to make us sick are not part of a sustainable society. 
I honor Audre Lorde's courage to time and again face her own vulnerabilities which were never only her own, and were also very much her own.

Essential Feminist Books By Audre Lorde

The Warrior Poet Also Wrote Warrior Prose

By , Contributing Writer
Audre Lorde was a poet who contributed greatly to feminist theory. She called herself a "Black lesbian feminist warrior poet." As a feminist poet, a lesbian mother, an artist, and a child of West Indian immigrants, she rejected descriptions that limited her or other women to only one category. Books by Audre Lorde include not just feminist poetry, but also memoir, essay and personal mythology.

Audre Lorde's writings offer stories of life experience and her vision of black feminist consciousness. The "warrior poet," as she described herself, offered both warrior poetry and warrior prose.A Few Essential Audre Lorde Books
  • Cables to Rage (1970)
    Audre Lorde's second published volume of poetry was Cables to Rage. The poems in Cables to Rage explore themes of love, relationships, childbirth and raising children. The poem "Martha," which appears in Cables to Rage, is often called Audre Lorde's first overtly lesbian poem.
  • From a Land Where Other People Live (1973)
    Audre Lorde's third volume of poetry, From a Land Where Other People Live, explores the complexities of identity while also developing the theme of injustice. During the 1960s and 1970s, in both poetry and life, Audre Lorde fought against using one-word labels to dismiss or marginalize those who are labeled. From a Land Where Other People Live was nominated for a National Book Award.
  • Coal (1976)
    Coal reached a larger audience and continued Audre Lorde's exploration of multiple layers of identity. The poem "Coal" begins "I/is the total black, being spoken/from the earth's inside." The substance of coal is a metaphor for her own essence, a blackness from inside of the earth that provides essential fuel and becomes a diamond.y
  • The Cancer Journals (1980)
    The Cancer Journals
    chronicles Audre Lorde's experience with breast cancer. The book is a collection of her writings, part essay and part memoir. Audre Lorde began writing journal entries six months after her mastectomy. She asks in The Cancer Journals where she can find a model or guide to help her understand how to deal with cancer. She also questions Western medicine and asserts that women should control their own health and healing.
  • Zami A New Spelling of My Name (1982)
    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is Audre Lorde's "biomythography." She weaves poetry, stories and real-life recollections of her coming of age in New York City. She also recalls early experiences with poetry and the political women's scene. The book meanders through school, work, love and family with equally vivid memories of childhood classrooms, a factory job or the 1950s lesbian bars in New York.>
  • Sister Outsider (1984)
    Sister Outsider is another collection of Audre Lorde's writings, essays and speeches. Feminism, racism, emotion, sexism within the black community, racism within the feminist community - all of these ideas and more were examined in Audre Lorde's life and writing. In Sister Outsider, she continues to grapple with erotic power, personal power and wholeness. Significant essays in Sister Outsider include:
    • "The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power"
    • "Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving"
    • "The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism"
    • "An Open Letter to Mary Daly," written in 1979

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