Dudley Randall and Audre Lorde

Dudley Randall and Audre Lorde


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Did you know April . . .

12th-18th Is National Library Week / April is National Poetry Month

We highlight Dudley Randall and Audre Lorde



Books by and about Dudley Randall

Julius E. Thompson. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 1960-1995. Jefferson: McFarland, 1999. 344 pp

The Black Poets. Edited by Dudley Randall. A Bantam Book 1971.

Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets / Poem Counterpoem  / Cities Burning  /  Love You  

More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades / After the Killing  / Broadside Memories: Poets I Have Known

A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems  / For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and the Death of Malcolm

Golden Song: The Fiftieth Anniversary Anthology of the Poetry Society of Michigan

*   *   *   *   *

Dudley Randall

Randall, a librarian by training and trade . . . figures prominently in the development of an audience for the new black poetry. Randall also served in World War II and writes poems about the war, love, violence, art, and the black presence. His well known “Booker T. and W.E.B.,” digesting the Washington-Du Bois controversy, was seen by Du Bois, and this pleased Randall. The poem first appeared in Midwest Journal, 1952. Randall has also written about and translated Russian poetry. Dudley Randall– Publisher, Editor, Poet

*   *   *   *   *

Black Magic

            By Dudley Randall

Black girl black girl

lips as curved as cherries

full as grape bunches

sweet as blackberries


Black girl black girl

when you walk you are

magic as a rising bird

or a falling star


Black girl black girl

what’s your spell to make

the heart in my breast

jump           stop         shake


The Poetry of Black America. Copyright © 1973 by Arnold Adoff. Introduction copyright © 1973 by Gwendolyn Brooks Blakely • Harper & Row • New York, N.Y. 10022

*   *   *   *   *

Books by Dudley Randall

Poem Counterpoem, by Randall and Margaret Danner (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1966).

Cities Burning (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1968).

Love You   (London: Paul Breman, 1970).

More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades (Chicago: Third World Press, 1971).

After the Killing (Chicago: Third World Press, 1973),

Broadside Memories: Poets I Have Known (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975).

A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems (Detroit: Lotus Press, 1981).

Edited Books

For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and the Death of Malcolm X, edited by Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1967).

Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1969).

The Black Poets, edited by Dudley Randall (New York: Bantam, 1971).

Golden Song: The Fiftieth Anniversary Anthology of the Poetry Society of Michigan, edited by Randall and Louis J. Cantoni (Detroit: Harlo, 1985).

 *   *   *   *   *

Books by Audre Lorde

 Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches / The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde / Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

 The Black Unicorn: Poems / A Burst of Light / The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power / Cancer Journals

*   *   *   *   *

Audre Lorde

After graduating from high school, she attended Hunter College from 1954 to 1959, graduating with a bachelors degree. While studying library science, Lorde supported herself working various odd jobs: factory worker, ghost writer, social worker, X-ray technician, medical clerk, and arts and crafts supervisor. In 1954, she spent a pivotal year as a student at the National University of Mexico, a period described by Lorde as a time of affirmation and renewal because she confirmed her identity on personal and artistic levels as a lesbian and poet. On her return to New York, Lorde went to college, worked as a librarian, continued writing, and became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich Village. Lorde furthered her education at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in library science in 1961. During this time she also worked as a librarian at Mount Vernon Public Library and marred attorney Edward Ashley Rollins; they later divorced in 1970 after having two children, Elizabeth and Johnathan. In 1966, Lorde became head librarian at Town School Library in New York City where she remained until 1968. (BK) Lorde Life

*   *   *   *   *


          By Audre Lorde

Since Naturally Black is Naturally Beautiful

I must be proud

And, naturally

Black and


Who always was a trifle


And plain, though proud,



Now I’ve given up pomades

Having spent the summer sunning

And feeling naturally free

     (if I die of skin cancer

      oh well — one less

      black and beautiful me)

Yet no agency spends millions

To prevent my summer tanning

And who trembles nightly

With the fear of their lily cities being swallowed

By a summer ocean of naturally wooly hair?


But I’ve bought my can of

Natural Hair Spray

Made and marketed in Watts

Still thinking more

Proud beautiful Black women

Could better make and use

Black bread.

Source: In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry, edited by E. Ethelbert Miller. Illustrated by Terrance Cummings. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1994.

*   *   *   *   *

Other Poetry Collections

 Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing.  Amiri Baraka (Editor) and Larry Neal (Editor). Black Classic Press (February 28, 2007). 680 p.

Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century Edited by E. Ethelbert Miller (Editor). Black Classic Press (September 18, 2002).

Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam. Sonia Sanchez (Foreword), Tony Medina (Editor), Louis Reyes Rivera (Editor)

Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry by African Americans. Aldon Lynn Nielsen (Editor), Lauri Ramey (Editor). University Alabama Press (February 5, 2006)

The Poetry of Black America, Edited by by Arnold Adoff (1973).

Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art (children’s). Belinda Rochelle (Editor). Amistad (December 26, 2000).

*   *   *   *   *

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

By Audre Lorde

Lorde—a recent New York State poet, author of ten books, a self-styled “black lesbian mother warrior poet,” and matriarch of the North American lesbian feminist movement—has been sorely missed since her death of cancer in 1992. For readers familiar with Lorde’s seminal essays in Sister Outsider (1984), this volume offers a complementary view. The poems are not easy to read in that many of them document the everyday horrors of racism and sexism, eulogizing victims who would otherwise have been forgotten. Lorde’s commitment to the fight against injustice, her struggle to raise her children, and her insistence on honest communication with women and men she considered her sisters and brothers are rendered passionately and urgently throughout her oeuvre, from The First Cities, published in 1968, to her posthumous The Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance (Norton, 1993). Lorde’s ties that bind are those of blood and also of passion and conviction.—Library Journal

*   *   *   *   *

From the House of Yemanjá

                                   By Audre Lorde

My mother had two faces and a frying pot   

where she cooked up her daughters

into girls

before she fixed our dinner.

My mother had two faces

and a broken pot

where she hid out a perfect daughter   

who was not me

I am the sun and moon and forever hungry   

for her eyes.


I bear two women upon my back   

one dark and rich and hidden

in the ivory hungers of the other   


pale as a witch

yet steady and familiar

brings me bread and terror

in my sleep

her breasts are huge exciting anchors   

in the midnight storm.


All this has been


in my mother’s bed

time has no sense

I have no brothers

and my sisters are cruel.


Mother I need

mother I need

mother I need your blackness now   

as the august earth needs rain.   

I am


the sun and moon and forever hungry   

the sharpened edge

where day and night shall meet

and not be


*   *   *   *   *

Audre Lorde—Jackie Kay— November 2011—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.”

Lorde was openly lesbian before the gay movement existed. Her wise words often seem eerily prescient. “Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time and the arena, and the manner of our revolutions, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.” Back in the 70s and 80s Lorde’s was an important and singular voice: “I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, ‘disappeared’ or run off the road at night … our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered for ever.”

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.

After her mastectomy, she chose not to have prosthesis, opting for asymmetry instead, and wore one dangling earring and one stud for unequal measure. From the little girl who loved those matching es, she’d come not exactly full circle but a revolution and a half.—Guardian

*   *   *   *   *

Berlinale 2012 Preview—Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992— by Tambay 26 January 2012—Scheduled to make its world premiere in the Panorama Documentary section is Dagmar Shultz’s Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 is an untold chapter (the Berlin years) of the late writer, poet and activist, Caribbean child of immigrants from Grenada, who died rather young at 58 years old in 1992. Specifically, the film will focus on:

Audre Lorde’s years in Berlin in which she catalyzed the first movement of Black Germans to claim their identity as Afro-Germans with pride. As she was inspiring Afro-Germans she was also encouraging the White German feminists to look at their own racism

The film will serve as a historical document for future generations of Germans, which profiles and highlights, from the roots, the African presence in Germany, and the origins of the anti-racist movement before and after the German reunification, as well as facillitates an analysis and an understanding of present debates on identity and racism in Germany.

The film can be considered a companion piece to the1994 documentary A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde by Ada Gray Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, which also screened at the Berlin Film Festival.—Indiewire

*   *   *   *   *

Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power

By Audre Lorde,


Summer 1989

There are many kinds of Power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.

We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued within western society. On the one hand, the superficially erotic has been encouraged as a sign of female inferiority; on the other hand, women have been made to suffer and to feel both contemptible and suspect by virtue of its existence.

It is a short step from there to the false belief that only by the suppression of the erotic within our lives and consciousness can women be truly strong. But that strength is illusory, for it is fashioned within the context of male models of power.

As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. So women are maintained at a distant/ inferior position to be psychically milked, much the same way ants maintain colonies of aphids to provide a life-giving substance for their masters.

But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.

The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.

It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work. To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society. But giving in to the fear of feeling and working to capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford, and the unintentional are those who do not wish to guide their own destinies.

This internal requirement toward excellence which we learn from the erotic must not be misconstrued as demanding the impossible from ourselves nor from others. Such a demand incapacitates everyone in the process. For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness.

The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible. Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision—longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered. . . .—Women’sTemple

*   *   *   *   *

I Am Your Sister

Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

Edited by Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Audre Lorde was not only a famous poet; she was also one of the most important radical black feminists of the past century. Her writings and speeches grappled with an impressive broad list of topics, including sexuality, race, gender, class, disease, the arts, parenting, and resistance, and they have served as a transformative and important foundation for theorists and activists in considering questions of power and social justice. Lorde embraced difference, and at each turn she emphasized the importance of using it to build shared strength among marginalized communities.

I Am Your Sister is a collection of Lorde’s non-fiction prose, written between 1976 and 1990, and it introduces new perspectives on the depth and range of Lorde’s intellectual interests and her commitments to progressive social change. Presented here, for the first time in print, is a major body (306 p) of Lorde’s speeches and essays , along with the complete text of A Burst of Light and Lorde’s landmark prose works Sister Outsider and The Cancer Journals.

Together, these writings reveal Lorde’s commitment to a radical course of thought and action, situating her works within the women’s, gay and lesbian, and African American Civil Rights movements. They also place her within a continuum of black feminists, from Sojourner Truth, to Anna Julia Cooper, Amy Jacques Garvey, Lorraine Hansberry, and Patricia Hill Collins. I Am Your Sister concludes with personal reflections from Alice Walker, Gloria Joseph, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and bell hooks on Lorde’s political and social commitments and the indelibility of her writings for all who are committed to a more equitable society.—Oxford University Press, 2009

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.  

Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






posted 15 April 2008 




 Home   Black Librarians Table  ChickenBones Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Related files:  Dudley Randall– Publisher, Editor, Poet  New Negro Poets U.S.A.   Black Fire The Black Poets   Black Nationalism in America     360° A Revolution of Black Poets 

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.