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born 1934

Considered mute and legally blind until age 5, Audre Lorde began reciting poems to express herself. She published her first poem at 17, went on to win numerous distinguished honors and became a major voice in 20th-century poetry, civil rights and feminism.

A self-declared “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre translated her lifelong feeling of being an outsider into powerful poems + essays on the complexities of oppression. Before losing a long battle with cancer in 1992, Audre published 17 books. Her powerful words still spur scores of writers, thinkers and activists around the world to keep breaking the silence.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Audre Lorde (25)

"I am deliberate and afraid of nothing."

New Year’s Day | june 1973

"Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence."

Poetry is Not a Luxury | january 1977

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood."

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action {as reprinted in Counterbalance} | december 1977

"What I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid?"

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action {as reprinted in Counterbalance} | december 1977

"My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you."

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action {as reprinted in Counterbalance} | december 1977

"It is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action {as reprinted in Counterbalance} | december 1977

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."

Denver Quarterly | october 1978

"The love expressed between women is particular and powerful."

My Words Will Be There | january 1979

"I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself, and by being honest with them about what I find there."

Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response | january 1979

"Without community there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences."

The Master’s Tools {as printed in Sister Outsider} | september 1979

"Divide and conquer must become define and empower."

The Master’s Tools {as printed in Sister Outsider} | september 1979

"The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house."

The Master’s Tools {as printed in Sister Outsider} | september 1979

"Prosthesis offers the empty comfort of ‘Nobody will know the difference.’ But it is that very difference which I wish to affirm, because I have lived it, and survived it, and wish to share that strength with other women."

The Cancer Journals | january 1980

"I do not have to win in order to know my dreams are valid, I only have to believe in a process of which I am a part."

The Cancer Journals {verified in print} | january 1980

"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less important whether or not I am unafraid."

The Cancer Journals {verified in print} | august 1980

"Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs."

Zami | january 1982

"Revolution is not a one-time event."

Learning from the 60s | february 1982

"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not lead single-issue lives…Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone."

Learning from the 60s | february 1982

"If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough. In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us."

Learning from the 60s | february 1982

"Change is the immediate responsibility of each of us, wherever and however we are standing, in whatever arena we choose."

Learning from the 60s | february 1982

"We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created."

Eye to Eye | january 1983

"No matter how difficult it may be to look at the realities of our lives, it is there that we will find the strength to change them."

I Am Your Sister | january 1985

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

A Burst of Light | march 1988

"We do not need to become each other in order to work together."

Commencement Address: Oberlin College {as reprinted in I am Your Sister} | may 1989

"American women of whatever color cannot afford to indulge ourselves in the parochial attitudes that often blind us to the rest of the world."

Showing Our Colors | january 1991
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curated with care by Kristen M. Fallica {january 2015}