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The Black Unicorn: Poems

4.36  ·  Rating Details ·  674 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Rich continues: "Refusing to be circumscribed by any simple identity, Audre Lorde writes as a Black woman, a mother, a daughter, a Lesbian, a feminist, a visionary; poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity. Her rhythms and accents have the timelessness of a poetry which extends beyond white Western politics, beyond the anger and wisdom of Black Ameri ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published August 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1978)
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These poems are like shards of glass refracting the blurred image of some sombre new insight into the human condition - the agony of love, the pangs of coming to grips with the idea of racial segregation in a world one previously thought had no demarcations, the pervasive pessimism of living as reaffirmed by the morning newspaper, an elegy to the memories of a childhood friend whose time on earth ran out too soon, the melancholic ruminations of a prostitute, the absurdity of children of today be ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those appreciative of colorful mosaics
Recommended to Dolors by: Samadrita
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2014
Reading Audre Lorde has proved to be an equally challenging and rewarding endeavor. Her poetry requires allocated concentration in order to meet the plurality of Lorde’s artistic expression. For plural identity, plurality of dissimilarities and oppressions, plurality of meaning and intention permeate the poems included in this anthology.
There is not a spare word in the amalgamation of colloquial use of language that includes press news, mental dialogues with long gone friends or family and the
Becca Becca
The poems in this book are absolutely beautiful. I recommend reading them at the same time that you read "Zami, a New Spelling of my Name." Audre Lorde has an amazing story to tell. Her poems have stayed with me for years.
Leslie Reese
Dec 19, 2014 Leslie Reese rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Audre Lorde was such a strong truth-teller and master of the craft of poetry. For me, her poems frankly pulsate with psychic power, love, feminine majesty, pain and cruel facts no one wants to know but must.

I happened to be reading this collection during the weeks when we learned that there would be no indictments for the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City. And while this collection of Lorde's poems was published in 1978, two of the 67 poe
Maie panaga
Jun 24, 2014 Maie panaga rated it it was amazing
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to
Andrea Blythe
May 31, 2012 Andrea Blythe rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
African folklore collides with the modern world in this provocative collection of poetry. Lorde explores darkness here, the beauty of black and the deep abyss of sorrow. A common style in these poems is to have one thought collide with the next, a line of text in the middle rubbing against both of the lines above and below it, so that it becomes torn between two different meanings.

Many of these poems are laced with anger and many lovingly paying homage to people either real and mythical. It's a
Loved, Loved, Loved these poems. It's rare that I read a book of poetry, but I read "For colored girls..." recently and I think they really compliment each other. I love its afrocentricity, and the almost mystical language she uses in many poems, especially at the beginning. So much revolves around the planets, the sun, the moon, Orisha, and magic and it still feels very real and down to earth. It's also SO relevant even today despite being written almost 40 years ago. There is a poem about a bl ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Sally rated it it was amazing
realer than ever - I'm so glad I read this
Sep 24, 2015 Paloma rated it it was amazing
resolvi começar a ler audre por este, onde imaginava uma liberdade dela em falar sobre as questões da sexualidade (meus poemas preferidos). há quem diga que é uma poesia meio “desabafativa” mas os momentos em que ela usa a mitologia africana nos poemas é de uma beleza incrível. talvez os escritos dos anos 60 sejam mais políticos, vou conferir. pra quem reclama de panfleto (pfffff), o livro é arte e poesia inconformada, porque “the black unicorn is not free”
Nov 25, 2014 Cristina rated it really liked it
Interessant lectura pel punt de vista tan diferent per allunyat del propi. Els poemes transmeten grans dosis de dolor, patiment i angoixa.

Una selecció personal:

- black unicorn
- sahara
- touring
- a litany for survival
- fog report
- recreation
- ghost
- future promise

L'últim adequat per tancar la tria per la mirada vers l'esperança; sempre.
Daniel Casey
Feb 18, 2015 Daniel Casey rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"Eulogy for Alvin Frost," "A Litany for Survival," "Harriet," & "At First I thought you were talking about" really stood out to me but there isn't a weak poem in the collection
Oren Whightsel
Jun 27, 2007 Oren Whightsel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
again, an amazing book. the poem entitle "power" is my all time favorite.
Ankita Gogoi
Dec 24, 2016 Ankita Gogoi rated it it was amazing
It required concentrated reading and my undivided attention but at the end of the day, the poems provided a kind of exhilaration difficult to put in words.
Jan 07, 2016 BrokenTune rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my ambitions for 2016 was to read more poetry. A few days ago I found a couple of reviews over on GR which recommended Lorde's work.

I have no intention of writing much about my impressions of her poetry or try an interpretation based on the author's life and experience (as if I could). Some of the poems were more tangible than others, but I thought I'd offer up some examples:


It has rained for five days
the world is
a round puddle
of sunless
Apr 07, 2016 salma rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I did not fall from the sky
nor descend like a plague of
to drink color and strength
from the earth
and I do not come like rain
as a tribute or symbol for
earth's becoming
I come as a woman
dark and open

"come as a woman dark and open" that's exactly what she does. this was a really really really fantastic collection. lorde's poetry is filled with beauty and imagery and honesty and love and pain. all around, the poems are really powerful and very beautiful.

the entire collection is really stron
Feb 18, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing
A really remarkable collection. In each poem, there are two or three moments of jolting surprise and immediate recognition, or identification, or agreement, or pleasure. Lorde's facility with language is incredible; there is a sinuousness to her word choice which constantly challenges and excites while still seeming to keep something in reserve. There is a marvelous tension between control and anger throughout, not like clenched teeth or balled fists, but like an inner iron resolve palpable at e ...more
Hayley Stone
Apr 15, 2016 Hayley Stone rated it liked it
I don't feel these poems were meant for me, that my background and privilege prevent me from feeling some of the themes as deeply, but that's okay. I still appreciated the rhythm and fire and anger and grief of Lorde's words. Her prosody is unique, somewhere between free verse and slam poetry, almost (while reading, I got the sense these would be incredible if spoken aloud). There is little formality here, even when it comes to punctuation, which I feel mimics the dichotomy of restraint and wild ...more
Sep 22, 2015 Kee rated it it was amazing
This collection of poems worked like therapy to my heart when I most needed it. Most notable of this complex collection was: Dream/Songs from the Moon of Beulah Land I-V. P. 75.

"How much love can I pour into you I said before it runs out of you like undigested spinach or shall I stuff you like a ritual goose with whatever you think you want of me"...

"But I'm not going anywhere you said, why is there always another question beyond that last question anuwered out of your mouth another storm? Its
I got this book as a present from a friend, and I really enjoyed it. Her poems about loving women were very, very good (except for the times she would refer to them as mothers/sisters, I got a little weirded out I admit). Also, I'm afraid to say her poems about black kids getting shot are just as poignant and relevant now as they were when they were first published. This is not, nor has it ever been, a post-racial America.
Apr 09, 2016 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It took me a while to get a good grip on this book, to begin to feel the rhythm of Lorde's poetic style, but once I did, I was punched in the gut by many of the poems in this collection. The book is raw and strong, subtle and accusatory, alienating and binding.
Jan 26, 2015 Alma rated it liked it
"My children play with skulls at school they have already learned to dream of dying their playgrounds were graveyards where nightmares of no stand watch over rented earth filled with the bones of tomorrow" - School Note
Sep 09, 2010 Suejin rated it really liked it
"Studied" this in my college years and am reading it now from a closer, more experienced perspective.
Mar 20, 2009 Cherie rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, feminism
A- I love Audre Lorde. This collection of poetry is really lovely; some fantastic lines, great stories within these poems. Recommended for all Lorde fans.
Mike Jensen
Apr 24, 2015 Mike Jensen marked it as books-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I was about 40 pages in when I realized that none of these poems meant anything to me for their ideas or their expression, and that too few even made sense. Maybe you had to be there. Book abandoned.
May 09, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing
i could re-read lorde's poetry a million times over and still beautiful new insights would reveal themselves to me... my fav in this collection is "recreation."
Aug 29, 2013 Toshi rated it it was amazing
“I will braid my hair
in the seasons of rain”

from "Dahomey"

What else is there to say. Lorde is powerful, potent, and mythic. Reclaim thyself sister.
Oleg Kagan
Dec 19, 2009 Oleg Kagan rated it liked it
Lots of good imagery, powerful messages but the rhythm got repetitive very quickly. Maybe I feel that way because of the lack of punctuation and short lines, or because I've heard Audre Lorde read.
Sally  Al Haq
Mar 26, 2015 Sally Al Haq rated it it was amazing
Theres was always somebody calling us crazy or mean or stuck up or evil or black and we were! كسم الجمال
Jessica Elizabeth
Feb 22, 2008 Jessica Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
this Collection contains my favorite poem of all time. Last line... "to find you tethered like a goat in my hearts yard." Find it ;)
Erin rated it it was amazing
Dec 11, 2016
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500 Great Books B...: The Black Unicorn: Poems - Audre Lorde - Samadrita 2 15 Oct 28, 2014 06:49AM  
Poetry 1 3 Feb 02, 2012 08:01AM  
  • Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems
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  • A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far
  • Not Vanishing
  • Consensual Genocide
  • In Mad Love and War
  • Zaatardiva
  • Black Wings and Blind Angels
  • Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • The Women Who Hate Me: Poetry, 1980-1990
  • The Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn, 1964-1977
  • Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color
Lorde's poetry was published very regularly during the 1960s — in Langston Hughes' 1962 New Negro Poets, USA; in several foreign anthologies; and in black literary magazines. During this time, she was politically active in civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements. Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities (1968), was published by the Poet's Press and edited by Diane di Prima, a former cla ...more
More about Audre Lorde...

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“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”
“A Litany for Survival

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.”
More quotes…