If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive. A little black girl opens her eyes in s Harlem, weak and half-blind. On she stumbles - through teenage pain and loneliness, but then to happiness in friendship, work and sex, from Washington Heights to Mexico, always changing, always strong. This is Audre Lorde's story.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Zami by Audre Lorde.
ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author's vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late s, the nature of Audre Lorde's work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her. Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Zami , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 21, mark monday rated it really liked it Shelves: mnemonic-devices , he-said-she-said , these-fragile-lives , queertime.
View all 11 comments. Aug 28, Zanna rated it it was amazing Shelves: feminism , bechdel-pass , favourites , grsm-lgbtqia , caribbean. I did not know this was a book about love. More than anything, more than about New York City in the '50s, more than being Black and gay and poor and female in that uneasy time, more than about the sensuality of food and the precise pleasures of style, more than about hustle and poetry and Audre's fraught relationship with her mother and the longing for an unknown home, for Granada and Carriacou, it is about loving women.
I must add that these things are not separable. I cannot in any kind of fait I did not know this was a book about love. I cannot in any kind of faith tease it out as a strand.
Audre writes of loving women inside all these other shells and spaces and non-spaces, all these stiflings and terrors and sufferings, all these joys and expansions into self and glory. Loving women, unfolding into all these places of being, where it seems to Audre that lesbians are the only women talking to each other, supporting each other emotionally at all in the '50s.
She and her friends and lovers invent the sisterhood the feminist movement obsessed about decades later. In one scene, Audre's mother hits her for not understanding racism, even though she has done her utmost to prevent her from knowing and understanding it, has made the topic of race taboo.
Is she angry with the people who hurt her daughter or frustrated that she can't control the world to protect her? In any case, the punishment doesn't make sense, revealing the divisiveness of white supremacy, the power it has to restrict and shrink love. In this anthology Cupcakes And Kalashnikovs I read a vignette from Zami in which Audre aged 12 and her sisters and parents go to Washington to celebrate graduations from grade and high school.
They go into an ice cream parlour and they are not served because they are black. Reading this episode in context, I can see that it is entirely toothless and for the anthology to include it as one of the woefully few items that deal with race now seems utterly reactionary.
I think about the discomfort of the white server who told them she 'couldn't' serve them. This manifestation of legal racism was soon to be swept away, thanks to pressure of black activism. It seems to me that racially charged situations that makes whites feel embarrassed are good leverage, while aspects of racism that only benefit whites are more difficult to combat. The sections that deal with the hideously unsafe factory work Lorde and other black women and men did to survive indict the culture of racism far more incisively, as she herself points out, noting that being able to eat whatever she wants anywhere in Washington didn't seem that important in the context of her struggle to survive.
There was an echo for me of bell hooks' essay 'Blood Works' in Art on My Mind: Visual Politics when Audre recalls stains on her pillow from nose bleeds being 'at least a sign of something living'.
This appreciation belongs to an awareness of life's precariousness and preciousness inculcated by tragedy, and the will to live beyond survival. It's the loveliest book, honestly, it's so erotic, so beautiful, so warming and tender. Such words lead towards a sweeter way of being.
View all 4 comments. Aug 11, Shanna Hullaby rated it it was amazing. My new favorite book. Lorde tells all the secrets I was too afraid to tell in language more eloquent than my dreams. Dec 23, El rated it it was amazing Shelves: 20th-centurylit-late , cultural-studies-and-other , hear-me-roar-and-gender. I went into this book knowing very little about Audre Lorde other than she was a black, lesbian poet.
I may have read some of her poetry back in college, but I am shocked Zami wasn't assigned reading at the time. My parents were not West Indian, I am not a lesbian, I didn't grow up in Harlem in the fifties, I wasn't alive during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I didn't have to leave the country because of McCarthyism although I'd like to leave for not dissimilar reasons.
And yet this book spoke to I went into this book knowing very little about Audre Lorde other than she was a black, lesbian poet. And yet this book spoke to me in a way that rarely happens - more than other books and authors that probably easily get lumped in with Lorde Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, etc.
Lorde wrote about being an outsider. To read her experiences today probably doesn't mean a lot to many readers because a lot has changed in the world since Lorde was young at least on paper - I argue things haven't changed much at all except no one likes to talk about it openly.
But I have always been an outsider in my own way, and I could relate to Lorde's story even though we have very little in common. She knew that you could be an individual but also to be made up of every person we have shared a piece of our history with, for better or worse. There's a dreamy quality to Lorde's writing, more than just poetry which is there because she was a poet , some repetition but in order to make a point. It's sort of like how as you get to know people and share stories, sometimes stories repeat themselves because that's just how it happens.
There's no reason that it needs to be edited out - these are our lives, these are our stories, and they're important, especially if you want to really know someone. I'm totally fascinated by the term Lorde coined, "biomythography" - I read here that she was quoted to have said biomythography "has the elements of biography and history of myth. This is one way of expanding our vision. View all 10 comments.
Audre Lorde's beatiful autobiography of her child- and early-adulthood. She's been prized for her "sensuality" in writing but this is no chicklit - her account of the lesbian bar scene in 's America will fascinate anyone interested in these forgotten pockets of culture.
After reading it, what most amazed me about her was her unpretensiousness and her willingness to expose herself completely. Few writers have been so insightful when talking about themselves.
View 1 comment. Nov 24, Jonathan rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. My second time reading this, the first being many years ago as an undergrad, has reinforced my love for this book, and my love for Lorde herself, her prose, poetry and essays all of which you should go check out. She is right about so much, and so much of what she says we desperately need to hear in these broken and divided times. These are not from this book, but I share them anyway: "Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, My second time reading this, the first being many years ago as an undergrad, has reinforced my love for this book, and my love for Lorde herself, her prose, poetry and essays all of which you should go check out.
These are not from this book, but I share them anyway: "Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.
For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support. Feb 12, Holly Dunn rated it it was amazing Shelves: be-a-good-human-tag , to-re-read , favourites-of , lgbt , feminist-non-fiction , female-authors.
Very easy five star rating. This is phenomenal. The language is beautiful and the exploration of her identity as black, female and lesbian is fascinating. Seriously, go and read it. It will make your heart sing. Feb 20, Nathan rated it it was amazing Shelves: yorwoc , feminist-themes , ya-coming-of-age-etc , lgbt.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
Watertown, Mass. New York: W. Indeed, among the elements that make the book so good are its personal honesty and lack of pretentiousness, characteristics that shine through the writing, bespeaking the evolution of a strong and remarkable character. The reader quickly grows to love the sturdy little black girl - daughter of parents immigrated to New York from Grenada before she was born - who is tongue-tied, unable to see without her glasses; who forces herself to stay awake half an hour after her parentally-imposed bedtime in order to listen to the stories nightly serialized by her two older sisters; who, in her loneliness, dreams of having a ''little female person'' all her own; yet who yearns for the magical moments of privacy disallowed by a stern mother who, considering solitude a social perversion, insists that Audre's bedroom door remain open except when she is studying, constantly studying. With her, we experience the pain of her gradual recognition of racism something from which her powerful mother seeks for years to protect her ; the suicide of a teen-age best friend for whom she has been able to do nothing. With her, we leave the rigid confines of home - a Washington Heights apartment - at 17 to become marginally self-supporting; to endure at times hunger, an abortion and Christmas alone. We share her growing awareness of her attraction toward her own sex; her first affairs with women; a longed-for trip alone to Mexico at feeling-like, on one of those journeys that serve as routes for psychic discovery; and life as a ''gay-girl'' in the Greenwich Village of the 50's.
THE POET WHO FOUND HER OWN WAY
Access options available:. While Lorde does share a few incidents of traumatic memories to break the silence—the painful memories of her family experiencing everyday and systemic racism in her childhood, the loss and death of her friend Genevieve, along with experiences of sexual assault during her girlhood—Lorde is more interested in elaborating on the empowerment of erotic memories for herself and for other women. I note that by discovering her sexual awakening and same-sex desire through narrative or storytelling, Lorde is able to arrive at self-authorization and self-affirmation, writing her subjectivity and personal history through the embodied erotic. Zami is not simply an autobiography but a biomythography, in which myth and fiction function to frame past, present, and future selves. Here I am interested in analyzing how Lorde conceptualizes narratives of memories, whether homeland memories, childhood memories, erotic memories of her female intimate relations, traumatic memories of sexual assault, or mythical memories of spiritual song and symbolic Africa. I argue that the resistant narratives of remembrance, specifically the embodied erotic memories, become an important place for Lorde to narrate self-invention and subjectivity and to rewrite personal and cultural histories. The memoir is structured in three sections.