Cover image for The collected poems of Audre Lorde.
The collected poems of Audre Lorde.
Lorde, Audre.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, 2000.

Physical Description:
xvii, 489 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3562.O75 A17 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3562.O75 A17 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"These are poems which blaze and pulse on the page."--Adrienne Rich "The first declaration of a black, lesbian feminist identity took place in these poems, and set the terms--beautifully, forcefully--for contemporary multicultural and pluralist debate."--Publishers Weekly "This is an amazing collection of poetry by . . . one of our best contemporary poets. . . . Her poems are powerful, often political, always lyrical and profoundly moving."--Chuckanut Reader Magazine "What a deep pleasure to encounter Audre Lorde's most potent genius . . . you will welcome the sheer accessibility and the force and beauty of this volume."--Out Magazine

Author Notes

An African American lesbian feminist critic and writer, Lorde was born in Harlem and educated at National University of Mexico, Hunter College, and Columbia University. She married in 1962 and divorced in 1970, after having two children. Lorde first came to critical attention with her poetry. Her first poem was published in Seventeen magazine while she was in high school; it had been rejected by her high school newspaper because it was "too romantic" (Lorde considered her "mature" poetry, which focuses on her lesbian relationships, to be romantic also). Other early poems were published in many different journals, many of them under the pseudonym Rey Domini. Her first volume of poetry, "The First Cities," was published in 1968. Lorde then quit her job as head librarian at a school in New York City in order to devote her time to teaching and writing. She was a professor of English at Hunter College from 1980 until her untimely death from cancer in 1992.

Although many of Lorde's poems are about love, many are about anger, particularly anger about racism, sexism, and homophobia in America. "The Brown Menace or Poem to the Survival of Roaches" likens African Americans to cockroaches---hated, feared, and poisoned by whites but survivors nevertheless. Other poems express a daughter's anger toward her mother; still others eschew anger for affirmation and inspiration, which are represented as coming from lesbian love and traditional African myths because, as Lorde has said, "the master's tools will not dismantle the master's house." Lorde is also well known for her prose. Her courageous account of her struggle with breast cancer and the mastectomy that she underwent is movingly chronicled in "The Cancer Journals" (1980), her first major prose publication. "Zami, a New Spelling of My Name" (1982) is, in Lorde's words, a "biomythography," combining history, biography, and myth. In "Zami," Lorde focuses on her developing lesbian identity and her response to racism in the white feminist and gay communities, and to sexism and homophobia in the African American community. Lorde's critical essays, collected in "Sister/Outsider" (1984) and "A Burst of Light "(1988), have been quite influential, particularly "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power," in which she discusses the relationship of poetry to politics and the erotic.

Lorde was the recipient of several grants---from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1968 and 1981 and from the Creative Artists Public Service in 1972---as well as the Borough of Manhattan President's Award for Literary Excellence in 1987. She was also nominated for the National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for her third volume of verse, "From a Land Where Other People Live"(1973).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Since her death in 1992, Lorde's reputation has continued to grow. In life a tough, eloquent crusader who demanded that we honor the varieties of human experience, she retained her hold on readers despite the unavailability of much of her work. This edition, then, should be welcomed wherever there is interest in women's, minority, and lesbian literature. It includes Lorde's passionately private early work as well as her later, more obviously political work, bringing together such lovely, small, personal pieces as "Song" ("Strip our loving of dream / pay its secrets to thunder / and ransom me home") and longer, later works such as "Songs from the Moon of Beulah Land," with its rhetorical, oratorical fullness. The completeness of this collection (it includes multiple versions of several poems) may not serve Lorde's reputation as well as a selection might have, since there are patchy sections in her work. For her best poems--strong, vibrant, and wild--she will continue to be sought out. --Patricia Monaghan

Library Journal Review

Lorde?a recent New York State poet, author of ten books, a self-styled "black lesbian mother warrior poet," and matriarch of the North American lesbian feminist movement?has been sorely missed since her death of cancer in 1992. For readers familiar with Lorde's seminal essays in Sister Outsider (1984), this volume offers a complementary view. The poems are not easy to read in that many of them document the everyday horrors of racism and sexism, eulogizing victims who would otherwise have been forgotten, Lorde's commitment to the fight against injustice, her struggle to raise her children, and her insistence on honest communication with women and men she considered her sisters and brothers are rendered passionately and urgently throughout her oeuvre, from The First Cities, published in 1968, to her posthumous The Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance (Norton, 1993). Lorde's ties that bind are those of blood and also of passion and conviction. Recommended where Lorde's work is popular.?Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Along with Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, and Nikki Giovanni, Lorde (1934-92) holds a special place in a generation of African American women poets of liberation. Lorde is particularly regarded for her prodigious output, her range of embattled subject matter, and her considerable gifts of language. Her poetic speech is vibrant and totally unpretentious, she draws hardly at all from the wells of literary or esoteric allusion, and her vocabulary is neither demanding nor dazzling. Instead, her poetry is marked by immediacy, a firm sense of honest judgment, and seamless clarity. Even one poem, e.g., the remarkable "The Winds of Orisha," establishes Lorde's artistry; a large collection demonstrates an expansive spirit reminiscent of protest poet and humanist Muriel Rukeyser. Even before her untimely death, Lorde was a spokesperson for the gay rights and feminist movements; however irrelevant that position might be to the intrinsic value of the work, the poetry has an element of public speech: "Dream of your freedom / as my victory / and the victory of all dark women." Any large collection of Lorde's poetry will be a mix of luminescent verse--independent spirited and sensual--and poems addressed to social issues that stem more from thought than imagination. This collection joins Undersong: Chosen Poems, Old and New, Revised (1992) and includes poems from Lorde's nine published volumes along with new poems from 1992. All responsible collections of contemporary US poetry should include both these books. B. Wallenstein; CUNY City College

Table of Contents

Editor's Notep. xvii
Memorial IIp. 3
I Die for All Mysterious Thingsp. 4
A Family Resemblancep. 5
Coalp. 6
What My Child Learns of the Seap. 7
Now That I Am Forever with Childp. 8
Bridge through My Windowsp. 9
Second Springp. 10
Spring IIIp. 11
Geminip. 12
To a Girl Who Knew What Side Her Bread Was Buttered onp. 13
Nightstonep. 14
Father Son and Holy Ghostp. 15
Pirouettep. 16
Generationp. 17
Echop. 18
Oaxacap. 19
Father, the Year is Fallenp. 20
If You Come Softlyp. 21
Suffer the Childrenp. 22
A Child Shall Leadp. 23
A Lover's Songp. 24
Returnp. 25
Suspensionp. 26
Rites of Passagep. 29
Summer Oraclep. 30
Songp. 32
Spring Peoplep. 33
Rooming Houses Are Old Womenp. 34
Bloodbirthp. 35
After a First Bookp. 36
Marthap. 37
And What about the Childrenp. 45
The Dozensp. 46
The Woman Thingp. 47
A Poem for a Poetp. 48
Conversation in Crisisp. 50
Sowingp. 51
Making Itp. 52
On a Night of the Full Moonp. 53
Fantasy and Conversationp. 54
Dreams Bitep. 55
For Each of Youp. 59
The Day They Eulogized Mahaliap. 61
Equinoxp. 63
Progress Reportp. 65
Good Mirrors Are Not Cheapp. 67
Black Mother Womanp. 68
As I Grow Up Againp. 69
The Seventh Sensep. 70
New Year's Dayp. 71
Teacherp. 72
Moving out or the End of Cooperative Livingp. 74
Moving inp. 77
Neighborsp. 78
Change of Seasonp. 79
Generation IIp. 81
Love, Maybep. 82
Relevant is Different Points on the Circlep. 83
Signsp. 84
Conclusionp. 85
A Song of Names and Facesp. 87
Movement Songp. 88
The Winds of Orishap. 90
Who Said It Was Simplep. 92
Dear Toni Instead of a Letter of Congratulation upon Your Book and Your Daughter Whom You Say You Are Raising to Be a Correct Little Sisterp. 93
New York City 1970p. 101
To My Daughter the Junkie on a Trainp. 103
To Desi as Joe as Smoky the Lover of Ii5th Streetp. 105
The American Cancer Society or There is More Than One Way to Skin a Coonp. 107
A Sewerplant Grows in Harlem or I'm a Stranger Here Myself When Does the Next Swan Leavep. 109
A Birthday Memorial to Seventh Streetp. 110
One Year to Life on the Grand Central Shuttlep. 113
The Workers Rose on May Day or Postscript to Karl Marxp. 114
Cables to Rage or I've Been Talking on This Street Corner a Hell of a Long Timep. 115
Keyfoodp. 117
A Trip on the Staten Island Ferryp. 119
My Fifth Trip to Washington Ended in Northeast Delawarep. 120
Nowp. 121
To the Girl Who Lives in a Treep. 122
Barrenp. 124
Hard Love Rock #Iip. 125
Memorial IVp. 126
Love Poemp. 127
Mentorp. 128
The Fallenp. 129
Separationp. 130
Evenp. 131
Memorial III from a Phone Booth on Broadwayp. 132
And Don't Think I Won't Be Waitingp. 133
For My Singing Sisterp. 134
Monkeymanp. 135
Naturallyp. 136
Song for a Thin Sisterp. 137
Release Timep. 138
Revolution is One Form of Social Changep. 139
Oyap. 140
All Hallows Evep. 141
Ballad from Childhoodp. 142
Times Change and We Change with Them or We Seem to Have Lost Touch with Each Otherp. 143
To Marie, in Flightp. 145
The Beesp. 146
Vi et-Nam Addendap. 147
Vi sit to a City out of Timep. 148
The Brown Menace or Poem to the Survival of Roachesp. 149
Sacrificep. 151
Blackstudiesp. 153
Rites of Passagep. 161
Father Son and Holy Ghostp. 162
Coalp. 163
Rooming Houses Are Old Womenp. 164
The Woman Thingp. 165
Oaxacap. 166
Summer Oraclep. 167
Generationp. 169
A Family Resemblancep. 170
Songp. 171
On a Night of the Full Moonp. 172
Now That I Am Forever with Childp. 173
What My Child Learns of the Seap. 174
Spring Peoplep. 175
Poem for a Poetp. 176
Story Books on a Kitchen Tablep. 179
Pirouettep. 180
Hard Love Rockp. 181
Father the Year Has Fallenp. 182
Geminip. 183
Bridge through My Windowp. 184
Conversations in Crisisp. 185
The Maidenp. 186
When the Saints Come Marching inp. 187
On Midsummer's Evep. 188
Dreams Bitep. 189
Suspensionp. 190
A Child Shall Leadp. 191
Afterlovep. 192
The Dozensp. 193
And What about the Childrenp. 194
For the King and Queen of Summerp. 195
Fantasy and Conversationp. 196
Paperweightp. 197
Marthap. 198
Memorial Ip. 206
Memorial IIp. 207
The Songless Larkp. 208
Anniversaryp. 209
Second Springp. 210
To a Girl Who Knew What Side Her Bread Was Buttered onp. 211
Powerp. 215
School Notep. 217
Solsticep. 218
Scarp. 220
Between Ourselvesp. 223
Outsidep. 226
A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Childrenp. 228
The Black Unicornp. 233
A Woman Speaksp. 234
From the House of Yemanj√°p. 235
Coniagui Womenp. 237
A Rock Thrown into the Water Does Not Fear the Coldp. 238
Dahomeyp. 239
I25th Street and Abomeyp. 241
The Women of Dan Dance with Swords in Their Hands to Mark the Time When They Were Warriorsp. 242
Saharap. 243
Harrietp. 245
Chainp. 246
Sequelaep. 249
For Assatap. 252
At First I Thought You Were Talking aboutp. 253
A Litany for Survivalp. 255
Meetp. 257
Seasoningp. 259
Touringp. 260
Walking Our Boundariesp. 261
Eulogy for Alvin Frostp. 263
Chorusp. 266
Copingp. 267
To Martha: a New Yearp. 268
In Margaret's Gardenp. 269
Scarp. 270
Portraitp. 273
A Song for Many Movementsp. 274
Brother Alvinp. 275
School Notep. 276
Diggingp. 277
Outsidep. 279
Therapyp. 281
The Same Death over and over or Lullabies Are for Childrenp. 282
Ballad for Ashesp. 283
A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Childrenp. 284
Partingp. 286
Timepiecep. 287
Fog Reportp. 288
Pathways from Mother to Motherp. 289
Death Dance for a Poetp. 291
Dream/Songs from the Moon of Beulah Land I-Vp. 293
Recreationp. 296
Womanp. 297
Timingp. 298
Ghostp. 300
Artisanp. 301
Letter for Janp. 302
Bicentennial Poem # 21,000,000p. 304
The Old Daysp. 305
Contact Lensesp. 306
Lightlyp. 307
Hanging Firep. 308
But What Can You Teach My Daughterp. 309
From Inside an Empty Pursep. 310
A Small Slaughterp. 311
From the Greenhousep. 312
Journeystones I-xip. 313
About Religionp. 316
Sister Outsiderp. 317
Bazaarp. 318
Powerp. 319
Eulogyp. 321
Never Take Fire from a Womanp. 322
Between Ourselvesp. 323
Future Promisep. 326
The Trollop Maidenp. 327
Solsticep. 328
A Glossary of African Names Used in the Poemsp. 330
The Evening Newsp. 337
Za Ki Tan Ke Parlay Lotp. 338
Afterimagesp. 339
A Poem for Women in Ragep. 343
Octoberp. 346
Sister, Morning is a Time for Miraclesp. 347
Needa Choral of Black Women's Voicesp. 349
Sisters in Armsp. 357
To the Poet Who Happens to Be Black and the Black Poet Who Happens to Be a Womanp. 359
Outlinesp. 361
Stationsp. 367
Equal Opportunityp. 369
Soho Cinemap. 372
Vigilp. 374
Berlin is Hard on Colored Girlsp. 375
This Urn Contains Earth from German Concentration Campsp. 376
Mawup. 378
Fishing the White Waterp. 379
On the Edgep. 381
Naming the Storiesp. 382
Diasporap. 383
The Horse Casts a Shoep. 384
Reinsp. 385
Wood Has No Mouthp. 386
A Meeting of Mindsp. 387
The Art of Responsep. 388
From the Cavep. 389
A Question of Climatep. 390
Out to the Hard Roadp. 391
Every Traveler Has One Vermont Poemp. 392
For Judithp. 393
For Jose and Reginap. 394
Beverly's Poemp. 395
Big Apple Circusp. 396
Floridap. 397
Homep. 399
Burning the Water Hyacinthp. 400
Political Relationsp. 401
Learning to Writep. 402
On My Way out I Passed over You and the Verrazano Bridgep. 403
Out of the Windp. 407
Holographsp. 408
There Are No Honest Poems about Dead Womenp. 409
A Question of Essencep. 410
For the Recordp. 411
Ethiopiap. 412
Generation IIIp. 413
Never to Dream of Spidersp. 414
Beamsp. 415
Callp. 417
Smelling the Windp. 423
Legacy-hersp. 424
Making Love to Concretep. 425
Echoesp. 427
Dominop. 428
Thawp. 429
Party Timep. 430
Prismp. 432
Do You Remember Laurap. 433
Inheritance-hisp. 434
The One Who Got Awayp. 438
Depreciationp. 439
Syracuse Airportp. 440
Thanks to Jesse Jacksonp. 441
Judith's Fancyp. 442
Productionp. 443
Buildingp. 444
Jessehelmsp. 445
Dear Joep. 446
Women on Trainsp. 448
The Politics of Addictionp. 451
Kitchen Linoleump. 452
Oshun's Tablep. 453
Partingp. 454
Peace on Earthp. 455
Restoration a Memorial-9/I8/9ip. 456
Starting All over Againp. 458
What It Means to Be Beautifulp. 460
Hugo Ip. 461
Constructionp. 462
Speechlessp. 463
For Craigp. 464
East Berlinp. 465
The Night-Blooming Jasminep. 466
Girlfriendp. 468
Lunar Eclipsep. 469
Changep. 470
Today is Not the Dayp. 471
The Electric Slide Boogiep. 474
Indexp. 475