Coal is one of the earliest collections of poems by a woman who, Adrienne Rich writes, "for the complexity of her vision, for her moral courage and the catalytic passion of her language, has already become, for many, an indispensable poet." A rich gathering of songs and love poems, elegies and narratives, Coal evokes views of city life that are "accident and hard-edged, and sardonic 'cables of rage' humming with their own electricity" (Helen Vendler).
Marilyn Hacker captures the essence of Lorde and her poetry: "Black, lesbian, mother, urban woman: none of Lorde's selves has ever silenced the others; the counter point among them is often the material of her strongest poems."
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).