The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde


A complete collection—over 300 poems—from one of this country's most influential poets.
"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 ...

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A complete collection—over 300 poems—from one of this country's most influential poets.
"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

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lordea 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 movementhas 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393319729
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 489
  • Sales rank: 317,980
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) published nine volumes of poetry and five works of prose. She was a recipient of many distinguished honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin, and Haverford Colleges, and was named New York State Poet (1991-1993).

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Read an Excerpt

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

By Audre Lorde

W. W. Norton & Company

Copyright ©2000 Audre Lorde
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0393319725

Chapter One

Memorial II

What are you seeing
In my mirror this morning
Peering out like a hungry bird
From behind my eyes
Are you seeking the shape of a girl
I have grown less and less to resemble
Or do you remember
I could never accept your face dying
I do not know you now
Surely your vision stayed stronger than mine
Genevieve tell me where dead girls
Wander after their summer.

I wish I could see you again
Far from me--even
Birdlike flying into the sun
Your eyes are blinding me Genevieve.

A Family Resemblance

My sister has my hair my mouth my eyes
And I presume her trustless.
When she was young, and open to any fever
Wearing gold like a veil of fortune on her face,
She waited through each rain a dream of light.
But the sun came up
Burning our eyes like crystal
Bleaching the sky of promise and
My sister stood
Black, unblessed and unbelieving
Shivering in the first cold show of love.

I saw her gold become an arch
Where nightmare hunted
Down the porches
Of her restless nights.
Now through the echoes of denial
She walks a bleached side of reason
Secret now
My sisternever waits,
Nor mourns the gold that wandered from her bed.

My sister has my tongue
And all my flesh unanswered
And I presume her trustless as a stone.


Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth's inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame
How a sound comes into a word, coloured
By who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book--buy and sign and tear apart--
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
Bedevil me.

Love is a word another kind of open--
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth's inside
Take my word for jewel in your open light.

To My Daughter The Junkie
On A Train

Children we have not borne
bedevil us by becoming
painfully sharp and unavoidable
like a needle in our flesh.

Coming home on the subway from a PTA meeting
of minds committed like murder
or suicide
to their own private struggle
a long-legged girl with a horse in her brain
slumps down beside me
begging to be ridden asleep
for the price of a midnight train
free from desire.
Little girl on the nod
if we are measured by the dreams we avoid
then you are the nightmare
of all sleeping mothers
rocking back and forth
the dead weight of your arms
locked about our necks
heavier than our habit
of looking for reasons.

My corrupt concern will not replace
what you once needed
but I am locked into my own addictions
and offer you my help, one eye
for my own station.
Roused and deprived
your costly dream explodes
into a terrible technicoloured laughter
at my failure
up and down across the aisle
women avert their eyes
as the other mothers who became useless
curse their children who became junk.


In what had been a pathway
our bed and a shared bathroom
broken hours lap at my heels
reaching my toothbrush
I see
wide valleys filled with water
folding into myself
I cross them into the shower the
tiles right themselves
in retreat
my skin thrills
bruised and battered
as thunderspray splatters
plasma on my horizons
when no more rain comes
I cast me out lightly
on tiptoe
shifting and lurching
against my eyes
plastic curtains
I hung
last December
watching the sun flee
through patterns
always and never
I spiced my armpits
courting the solstice
and never once did I abandon
I would contrive
to make my world
whole again.


Seven holes in my heart where flames live
in the shape of a tree
upside down
bodies hang in the branches
Bernadine selling coconut candy
on the war-rutted road to St. Georges
my son's bullet-proof vest
dark children
dripping off the globe
like burned cheese.

Pale early girls spread themselves
handkerchiefs in the grass
near willow
a synchronized throb of air
swan's wins are beating
strong enough to break a man's leg
all the signs say
do not touch.

Large solid women
walk the parapets beside me
mythic hunted
what we cannot remember
hungry hungry
songs at midnight
prepare me for morning.


Excerpted from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde Copyright ©2000 by Audre Lorde. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

The First Cities (1968)
Memorial II
"I Die for All Mysterious Things"
A Family Resemblance
What My Child Learns of the Sea
Now that I Am Forever with Child
Bridge through My Windows
Second Spring
Spring III
To a Girl Who Knew What Side Her Bread Was Buttered On
Father Son and Holy Ghost
Father, the Year Is Fallen
If You Come Softly
Suffer the Children
A Child Shall Lead
A Lover's Song

Cables To Rage (1970)
Rites of passage
Summer oracle
Spring people
Rooming houses are old women
After a first book
And what about the children
The dozens
The woman thing
A poem for a poet
Conversation in crisis
Making it
On a night of the full moon
Fantasy and conversation
Dreams bite...

From A Land Where Other People Live (1973)
For Each of You
The Day They Eulogized Mahalia
Progress Report
Good Mirrors Are Not Cheap
Black Mother Woman
As I Grow Up Again
The Seventh Sense
New Year's Day
Moving Out or The End of Cooperative Living
Moving In
Change of Season
Generation II
Love, Maybe
Relevant Is Different Points on the Circle
A Song of Names and Faces
Movement Song
The Winds of Orisha
Who Said It Was Simple
Dear Toni

New York Head Shop and Museum (1974)
New York City 1970
To My Daughter the Junkie on A Train
To Desi As Joe As Smoky the Lover Of 115th Street
The American Cancer Society
A Sewerplant Grows In Harlem
A Birthday Memorial to Seventh Street
One Year to Life On The Grand Central Shuttle
The Workers Rose On May Day
Cables to Rage
A Trip on The Staten Island Ferry
My Fifth Trip To Washington Ended In
Northeast Delaware
To the Girl Who Lives In A Tree
Hard Love Rock #II
Memorial IV
Love Poem
The Fallen
Memorial III from A Phone Booth On Broadway
And Don't Think I Won't Be Waiting
For My Singing Sister
Song for A Thin Sister
Release Time
Revolution Is One Form Of Social Change
All Hallows Eve
Ballad from Childhood
Times Change And We Change With Them
To Marie, in Flight
The Bees
Viet-Nam Addenda
Visit To A City Out Of Time
The Brown Menace

Coal (1976)
Rites of Passage
Father Son and Holy Ghost
Rooming Houses Are Old Women
The Woman Thing
Summer Oracle
A Family Resemblance
On a Night of the Full Moon
Now That I Am Forever with Child
What My Child Learns of the Sea
Spring People
Poem for a Poet
Story Books on a Kitchen Table
Hard Love Rock
Father the Year Has Fallen
Bridge through My Window
Conversations in Crisis
The Maiden
When the Saints Come Marching in
On Midsummer's Eve
Dreams Bite
A Child Shall Lead
The Dozens
And What About the Children
For the King and Queen of Summer
Fantasy and Conversation
Memorial I
Memorial II
The Songless Lark
Second Spring
To a Girl Who Knew What Side Her Bread Was Buttered On

Between Our Selves (1976)
School Note
Between Ourselves
A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Children

The Black Unicorn (1978)
The Black Unicorn
A Woman Speaks
From the House of Yemanja
Coniagui Women
A Rock Thrown into the Water Does Not Fear
the Cold
125th Street and Abomey
The Women of Dan
For Assata
At First I Thought You Were Talking About...
A Litany for Survival
Walking Our Boundaries
Eulogy for Alvin Frost
To Martha: A New Year
In Margaret's Garden
A Song for Many Movements
Brother Alvin
School Note
The Same Death Over and Over
Ballad for Ashes
A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Children
Fog Report
Pathways: From Mother to Mother
Death Dance for a Poet
Dream/Songs from the Moon of Beulah Land I-V
Letter for Jan
Bicentennial Poem #21,000,000
The Old Days
Contact Lenses
Hanging Fire
But What Can You Teach My Daughter
From Inside an Empty Purse
A Small Slaughter
From the Greenhouse
Journeystones I-XI
About Religion
Sister Outsider
"Never Take Fire from a Woman"
Between Ourselves
Future Promise
The Trollop Maiden
A Glossary of African Names Used in the Poems

(New Poems From) Chosen Poems: Old And New (1982)
The Evening News
Za Ki Tan Ke Parlay Lot
A Poem for Women in Rage
Sister, Morning Is A Time for Miracles
Need: A Choral of Black Women's Voices

Our Dead Behind Us (1986)
Sisters in Arms
To the Poet Who Happens to Be Black and the Black Poet Who Happens to Be a Woman
Equal Opportunity
Soho Cinema
Berlin Is Hard on Colored Girls
This Urn Contains Earth from German
Concentration Camps
Fishing the White Water
On the Edge
Naming the Stories
The Horse Casts a Shoe
Wood Has No Mouth
A Meeting of Minds
The Art of Response
From the Cave
A Question of Climate
Out to the Hard Road
Every Traveler Has One Vermont Poem
For Judith
For Jose and Regina
Beverly's Poem
Big Apple Circus
Burning the Water Hyacinth
Political Relations
Learning to Write
On My Way Out I Passed Over You and the
Verrazano Bridge
Out of the Wind
There Are No Honest Poems About Dead Women
A Question of Essence
For the Record
Generation III
Never to Dream of Spiders

The Marvelous Arithmetics Of Distance (1993)
Smelling the Wind
Making Love to Concrete
Party Time
Do You Remember Laura
The One Who Got Away
Syracuse Airport
Thanks to Jesse Jackson
Judith's Fancy
Dear Joe
Women on Trains
The Politics of Addiction
Kitchen Linoleum
Oshun's Table
Peace on Earth
Restoration: A Memorial--9/18/91
Starting All Over Again
What It Means to Be Beautiful
Hugo I
For Craig
East Berlin
The Night-Blooming Jasmine
Lunar Eclipse
Today Is Not the Day
The Electric Slide Boogie

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