My hero: Audre Lorde by Jackie Kay

My hero: Audre Lorde by Jackie Kay

The Guardian
Series: My Hero

Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing
Newcastle University

Refusal to be defined by single categories: Lorde in 1983. Photograph: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

‘Lorde was openly lesbian before the gay movement existed. Her wise words often seem eerily prescient’

Audre Lorde dropped the y from Audrey when she was still a child so she could be Audre Lorde. She liked the symmetry of the es at the end. She was born in New York City in 1934 to immigrants from Grenada. She didn’t talk till she was four and was so short-sighted she was legally blind. She wrote her first poem in eighth grade. The Black Unicorn, her most unified collection of poems, partly describes a tricky relationship with her mother. “My mother had two faces and a frying pot / where she cooked up her daughters / into girls … My mother had two faces / and a broken pot /where she hid out a perfect daughter /who was not me.”…

…I first met Audre in 1984, when I was 22. She told me her grandfather had been Scottish, and that I didn’t need to choose between being Scottish and being black. “You can be both. You can call yourself an Afro Scot,” she said in her New York drawl. Lorde was Whitman-like in her refusal to be confined to single categories. She was large. She contained multitudes…

Read the entire article here.

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