Giants of the Lesbian Literary World

Audre Lorde and Pat Parker have both passed away but their work lives on, and continues to inspire lesbians, feminists, and poets everywhere.


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This spring, the lesbian journal Sinister Wisdom will be holding two events to honor the work of Audre lorde and Pat Parker.

 

Sinister Wisdom is a lesbian literary journal, and is the longest-running lesbian publication in the world. It has served as a platform for lesbians since 1976, and uplifts the voices of lesbians who would otherwise not be heard. Lorde and Parker both frequently published work in the journal, with Lorde publishing her hauntingly evocative poem “Meet” in Sinister Wisdom’s third-ever volume.

 

“I have heard you calling across this land in my blood/before meeting/and I greet you again,” she writes. Like much of her work, it is about connection: between people, between black women, between lesbians.

 

Lorde and Parker had a strong connection between themselves—in the time before email and cell phones, they kept up a regular letter-writing correspondence in the 1970s and 80s. They talked about everything from their writing craft to their personal lives, and supported each other through the periods when they each lived with breast cancer. Parker would die of that cancer in 1989, ending their correspondence. Lorde followed her in 1992. Lorde died at 58, Parker was just 45.

 

Despite their short lives, both were incredibly prolific, and left indelible marks on the lesbian world. It’s hard to quantify just how influential they were, but they were incredibly important both to their communities as well as to each other. Sinister Wisdom gathered a collection of their correspondence and published it as Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989. The book gives fresh insight into the minds of the two women, and is being launched at two events in California.

 

The first is at Laurel Bookstore in Oakland on March 24. The event will feature lesbian poets and writers MJ Jones, Europa Grace, Lenn Keller, Andreana Clay, Nefertiti Asanti and Thea Mathews, who will read from Sister Love and discuss their contemporary engagement with the legacies of Lorde and Parker.

 

For those in the Southern part of the state, another event is being held in April in West Hollywood. There will be a celebration of Sinister Wisdom as part of the city’s lesbian speakers series, with readings from past Sinister Wisdom contributors including Tia Farnsworth, Olga Garcia, and Kitty Tsui.

 

Both events are free and open to the public. The icons of lesbian poetry such as Lorde and Parker may no longer be with us, but their legacies live on in the wealth of lesbian poetry, art, and writing that is being produced now.

 

 

 

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