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The Selected Works of Audre Lorde

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A definitive selection of Audre Lorde’s "intelligent, fierce, powerful, sensual, provocative, indelible" (Roxane Gay) prose and poetry, for a new generation of readers.

Self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" Audre Lorde is an unforgettable voice in twentieth-century literature, and one of the first to center the experiences of black, queer women. This essential reader showcases her indelible contributions to intersectional feminism, queer theory, and critical race studies in twelve landmark essays and more than sixty poems—selected and introduced by one of our most powerful contemporary voices on race and gender, Roxane Gay.

Among the essays included here are:

  • "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action"
  • "The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House"
  • "I Am Your Sister"
  • Excerpts from the American Book Award–winning A Burst of Light

The poems are drawn from Lorde’s nine volumes, including The Black Unicorn and National Book Award finalist From a Land Where Other People Live. Among them are:

  • "Martha"
  • "A Litany for Survival"
  • "Sister Outsider"
  • "Making Love to Concrete"

ISBN-13: 9781324004615

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Norton W. W. & Company Inc.

Publication Date: 09-08-2020

Pages: 384

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) published eleven volumes of poetry and five works of prose. Her constellation of honors includes honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin, and Haverford colleges. Roxane Gay is the author of five books, including the best-selling Bad Feminist. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Roxane Gay is the author of five books, including the best-selling Bad Feminist. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix


Poetry Is Not a Luxury (1977) 3

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action (1977) 9

My Mother's Mortar (1977) 15

Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power (1978) 29

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House (1979) 39

Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface (1979) 45

The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism (1981) 53

Fourth of July (1982) 67

I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities (1985) 73

A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer (1988) 81

Is Your Hair Still Political? (1990) 167

Difference and Survival: An Address at Hunter College (undated) 173


From The First Cities (1968)

A Family Resemblance 183

Coal 184

Now that I Am Forever with Child 185

Spring III 186

To a Girl Who Knew What Side Her Bread Was Buttered On 187

Father Son and Holy Ghost 188

Generation 189

If You Come Softly 190

Suffer the Children 191

A Lover's Song 192

Suspension 193

From Cables to Rage (1970)

Rooming houses are old women 197

Bloodbirth 198

Martha 199

Sowing 209

Making it 210

On a night of the full moon 211

From From a Land Where Other People Live (1973)

Progress Report 215

Moving Out or The End of Cooperative Living 217

Change of Season 220

Generation II 222

Love, Maybe 223

Conclusion 224

Movement Song 226

Who Said It Was Simple 228

From New York Head Shop and Museum (1974)

New York 1970 231

The American Cancer Society Or There Is More Than One Way To Skin A Coon 234

A Sewerplant Grows In Harlem Or I'm A Stranger Here Myself When Does The Next Swan Leave 236

One Year To Life On The Grand Central Shuttle 238

The Workers Rose On May Day Or Postscript To Karl Marx 240

Cables to Rage or I've Been Talking on This Street Corner a Hell of a Long Time 242

Keyfood 244

To The Girl Who Lives In A Tree 246

Love Poem 248

Separation 249

Song For A Thin Sister 250

Revolution Is One Form Of Social Change 251

The Brown Menace Or Poem To The Survival of Roaches 252

Sacrifice 254

From Between Our Selves (1976)

Power 259

Solstice 261

Scar 263

Between Ourselves 267

From The Black Unicorn (1978)

A Woman Speaks 273

Coniagui Women 275

Chain 277

Sequelae 280

A Litany for Survival 283

Portrait 285

Therapy 286

Recreation 287

Artisan 288

Contact Lenses 290

But What Can You Teach My Daughter 291

From Inside an Empty Purse 292

A Small Slaughter 293

Sister Outsider 294

"Never Take Fire from a Woman" 295

Between Ourselves 296

From Chosen Poems: Old and New (1982)

The Evening News 301

Afterimages 303

A Poem For Women In Rage 308

From Our Dead Behind US (1986)

To the Poet Who Happens to Be Black and the Black Poet Who Happens to Be a Woman 315

Outlines 317

Equal Opportunity 324

Diaspora 327

A Question of Climate 328

Florida 329

Political Relations 331

There Are No Honest Poems About Dead Women 333

From The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance (1993)

Making Love to Concrete 337

Thaw 339

Inheritance-His 340

Jessehelms 345

The Politics of Addiction 347

Today Is Not the Day 349

Notes 353

Prose Index 355

Poetry Index 365