Which former Poet Laureate of New York wrote the poem "The Black Unicorn"?

And the answer: Audre Lorde.    
Photo credit: Elsa Dorfman

Audre Lorde’s "The Black Unicorn" was published in 1978. The 15-line poem portrays the reality of existing as an outcast and it is considered by critics to be her finest work.

Activist, poet, warrior and librarian Audre Lorde was born February 18, 1934 in New York City. Unlike most, Lorde found her passion for poetry early in her childhood. Interestingly, young Lorde found the medium so expressive that she used it to communicate on a daily basis:

"I used to speak in poetry. I would read poems, and I would memorize them. People would say, well what do you think, Audre. What happened to you yesterday? And I would recite a poem and somewhere in that poem would be a line or a feeling I would be sharing. In other words, I literally communicated through poetry. And when I couldn’t find the poems to express the things I was feeling, that’s what started me writing poetry, and that was when I was twelve or thirteen.”

Throughout her career, Lorde engaged her experiences with racism, sexism and homophobia to fuel vital dialogue on the process of acknowledging and battling those systems of oppression. As she matured, poetry became a tool to express these experiences while commenting on larger power structures at play. As she gathered degrees from National University of Mexico, Hunter College and Columbia University, Lorde continued to expand her intellectual inquiries of oppression.

Additionally, Lorde was an acclaimed prose writer, whose titles further explore the intersections of her identity. Her account of her struggle to overcome breast cancer and mastectomy, The Cancer Journals (1980), is regarded as a major work of illness narrative. Meanwhile, her collection of essays, A Burst of Light (1988), won the National Book Award.

Learn more about the Audre Lorde's activism and legacy here.  


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