Powerful poet Audrey Geraldine Lorde (1934-1992) shared her power with others, making the world a better place. Born on this day in New York City, she was the child of West Indian immigrants and discovered her passion for poetry as a teen.
"I loved words," she recalled. "I used to lie awake at night when I was a child and say words, and I used to picture them as waterfalls of light."
A person of color fighting for gay and women's rights, Lorde published her first volume of poems, The First Cities, in 1968. A librarian and a teacher, she once said, "When you reach out and touch other human beings, it doesn’t matter whether you call it therapy or teaching of poetry."
Diagnozed with breast cancer, she wrote six months after her radical mastectomy about her experience in The Cancer Journals (1980). With hope and hopelessness, she battled the disease for 14 years and captured her experience with honest, confessional prose, using her fears to fuel her inspiration.
"I could die of difference," she said, "or live myriad selves."
Calling for a spirit of community, she helped start Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, a groundbreaking publication for Asian, Latina, and African American Women. An advocate for freedom and truth, she said, "Poetry is not a luxury."
"Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm...As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
More Audre LORDE Quotations
Dare to share your power with others.