Zami, a new spelling of my name

by Audre Lorde

Paper Book, 1982


"ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author's vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, 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."--Off Our Backs



Call number



Trumansburg, N.Y. : Crossing Press, c1982.


User reviews

LibraryThing member norabelle414
A memoir of Audre Lorde, the great mid-century, Black, female, lesbian, feminist, civil rights activist poet. This book chronicles her life in New York City from her childhood in the late 1930s through her college degree in 1959.

Wow, is this a far-reaching story. I learned a lot about life as a
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black woman in the 30s-50s in NYC, as I expected to, but I was surprised to relate so strongly to so many aspects of Audre Lorde's life. She really spoke to me when she talked about her relationship with her mother, her many early friendships that came in and out of her life, and her difficulty with hetero-normative gender roles (which were strong even within the lesbian community). There is so much going on here that it's impossible to find nothing to learn nor relate to. She was always shut out of something or other, because she was black or because she was a woman or because she was gay or because she refused to label herself as either butch or femme. She doesn't relate to anyone in all aspects, but she relates to everyone in some aspect.

I'm dying to read and know more about Audre Lorde now, and I highly highly recommend this book, even if you aren't sure if it's for you. It is.
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
This is an amazing memoir -- gorgeously written and absolutely enthralling.
LibraryThing member alexyskwan
read it for class (sexuality in literature or something similar), but am very glad that I did. excellent book, with a detailed look at what it means to grow up both black and lesbian in the 1950s.
LibraryThing member chaseand32nd
so good, Audre really is a feminist hero
LibraryThing member RachelWeaver
This book is a hallmark of what it means when people say, "the personal is political." I've read Zami several times and each time it has struck me as the purest artifact of a woman's life. It resonates with me in a very personal way, but the political implications are teeming through this book.
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Politics are constantly butting into Audre Lorde's life and memories, making it obvious how it is knitted into her life, as a woman, as an African-American, as a lesbian--you cannot extricate the political from her life without unraveling the very fabric of her existence.
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LibraryThing member GoofyOcean110
This is a poetic, strong, and darkly innocent look at growing up black and lesbian in new york city in the 40s 50s and fighting the fight before it was sexy and about the loves and lives that made audrey lorde. I'm not sure exactly what a biomythography is, but it reads well enough as a memoir of a
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tough awakening and provides an interesting perspective on historical and political events I thought I knew.
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LibraryThing member thorold
Wonderful, but not quite what I was expecting: Lorde writes about the difficulties of growing up as a black lesbian in the forties and fifties with irony and a surprising amount of detachment. She avoids wallowing in the pain of oppression, but she doesn't hesitate to communicate pain when she
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needs to: in the abortion chapter she doesn't take any prisoners. Lorde is a poet first and a woman with a cause second: this is definitely a book that's worth reading on its own, literary, merits, not just as a document of a particular era of New York gay life.

Lorde wrote this book in the course of her long-running dispute with the "mainstream" of the women's movement about what she saw as their failure to engage with the problem of racism. Consequently, she makes a point here of telling us about the ways in which being black made things more difficult for her. She has a perfect right to do this, of course, but when you put her experience — as a middle-class girl who went to a good school and lived in the liberal atmosphere of the Village — side-by-side with something like Stone butch blues, you do have to start wondering if social class and geography weren't far more important than race for gay people in the fifties.
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LibraryThing member sumariotter
This was one of those life-changing beautiful powerful books for me that made me realize that being a lesbian is a good thing, and being a powerful woman is a good thing. She sensitized me to issues of race and gender that were only academic for me before this novel. It's been years since I read it
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but I still remember parts of her story so vividly.
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LibraryThing member alycias
"After the first week, I wondered if I could stick it out. I thought that if I had to work under those conditions for the rest of my life I would slit my throat. Some mornings, I questioned how I could get through the eight hours of stink and dirt and din and boredom. At 8:00 A.M. I would set my
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mind for two hours, saying to myself, you can last two hours, and then there will be a coffee break. I'd read for ten minutes, and then I'd set myself for another two hours, thinking, now all right, you can last two hours until lunch. After lunch, when the machines had kicked us over, I felt a little refreshed after my sardine sandwich, but those two hours were the hardest of the day. It was a long time until the 2:30 break. But finally, I could tell myself, now you can make it for two more hours and then you'll be free."-127

"Just because you're strong doesn't mean you can let other people depend on you too much. It's not fair to them, because when you can't do what they want they're disappointed, and you feel bad."-153

"By noon it amazed me that the streets of a city could be so busy and so friendly at the same time. Even with all the new building going on there was a feeling of color and light, made more festive by the colorful murals decorating the side of high buildings, public and private."-154
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LibraryThing member kylekatz
1982. A beautiful memoir of Lorde’s childhood in Harlem in the 1930s and 40s, and her early adulthood and first loves. Her parents were West Indian from Grenada, and very strict. Her high school love commited suicide after having possibly been sexually abused by her father. She worked in a
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factory in Stamford, Ct. for a while running unsafe xray equipment. She went to Mexico in the early 50s and had a lover there, an older white woman who was an alcoholic. Back in New York she went to the lesbian bars in Greenich Village and lived with a lover for a couple of years. She describes the difficulty of finding other lesbians in those days, and the struggle of being one of the few black lesbians in that community. The beauty in in the writing and the strength of living through a lot of trauma.
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Original publication date



0895941228 / 9780895941220
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