- NYS Writers Institute
A Friday Poetry Pride Month poem
"Poets must teach what they know, if we are all to continue being."
-- Audre Lorde
We're four days into Pride Month, an international celebration of achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, and for today's Poetry Pride Friday we feature a poem by Audre Lorde (1934–1992), the Caribbean-American poet, essayist, feminist, lesbian icon, and human rights activist.
Audre Lorde was awarded the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit in 1991 and served as New York State Poet under the auspices of the New York State Writers Institute until her death in 1992. (Read Gov. Mario Cuomo's proclamation)
Lorde grew up in Manhattan where she attended Catholic school. She loved to read poetry, often reciting whole poems or individual lines to communicate with people. When she could no longer find poems that expressed her feelings, she started writing her own poetry. Her first poem to be published appeared in Seventeen magazine when she was still in high school.
She self-described as "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." Lorde worked intensively with women of color in many different countries. A phone call in 1980 with her friend Barbara Smith (who later served on the Albany City Council) led to the formation of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, a press which concentrates exclusively on publishing and distributing works of women of color from various communities.
by Audre Lorde
I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck moving away from me beyond anger or failure your face in the evening schools of longing through mornings of wish and ripen we were always saying goodbye in the blood in the bone over coffee before dashing for elevators going in opposite directions without goodbyes. Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof as the maker of legends nor as a trap door to that world where black and white clericals hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh and now there is someone to speak for them moving away from me into tomorrows morning of wish and ripen your goodbye is a promise of lightning in the last angels hand unwelcome and warning the sands have run out against us we were rewarded by journeys away from each other into desire into mornings alone where excuse and endurance mingle conceiving decision. Do not remember me as disaster nor as the keeper of secrets I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars watching you move slowly out of my bed saying we cannot waste time only ourselves.
Source: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)
We support local, independent booksellers. You can purchase Audre Lorde's books at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza: https://www.bhny.com/book/9780393319729
The Audre Lorde Project: https://alp.org/