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A Burst of Light: and Other Essays

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  828 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"Lorde's words — on race, cancer, intersectionality, parenthood, injustice — burn with relevance 25 years after her death." — O, The Oprah Magazine

Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. Lorde announces the need for a radical politics of inters
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 13th 2017 by Ixia Press (first published April 1988)
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Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was a revelation of timeless brilliance from an intersectional feminist I can only strive to take lessons from! Highly recommended for anyone committed to social justice efforts!
Nabilah Firdaus
Another incredible collection examining sex industry, apartheid, lesbian parenting and reality of cancer. Bold, transformative and powerful. I can't recommend Audre Lorde strongly enough. She has always held a special place in my heart with her elegant and simulating messages of racism and women empowerment. One of the most powerful civil right activists I've ever known - she is very focused and has an effective clarity on what she wants to achieve and strategically transforming it into a sustai ...more
Aug 22, 2014 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I want to write down everything I know about being afraid, but I'd probably never have enough time to write anything else. Afraid is a country where they issue us passports at birth and hope we never seek citizenship in any other country. The face of afraid keeps changing constantly, and I can count on that change. I need to travel light and fast, and there's a lot of baggage I'm going to have to leave behind me. Jettison cargo. (55, 2/18/1984)

I am excited by these women, by their blossoming sen
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a updated and reissued version of her 1988 collection of essays. What's new here is an introduction by Sonia Sanchez, an interview about sadomasochism and three essays along with the original Burst of Light: Living with Cancer journal entries. This book illuminates her struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia and the liver cancer afflicting her body. And she put all of these struggles on the same plain, seeing them as equal. "Battling racism and battling heterosexism and battling apar ...more
Mary Clare
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full review!

Format: eBook ARC from NetGalley

In this collection of essays and journal entries, originally published in 1988, Audre Lorde writes frankly, clearly, and with full humanity about her experience as a Black Lesbian woman and her second experience with cancer.

My initial impulse is to call this collection something like "transcendent" but honestly, that would not be accurate. Because while it has the insight, power, and clarity of a work that someone might describe as transcendent, that w
Misse Jones
Phenomenal read! Very relevant to our current political, social, and economic climate even today. The tone feels as if it were written presently. A beautiful forward by Sonia Sanchez.
Gabriela Caballero
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I feel so humbled and grateful that Audre Lorde shared some of her writing while battling cancer. This was an emotional and powerful read.
Corie Sanford
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I wish I could give 7 stars.
The best part of this collection are the journal excerpts detailing the years surrounding the reemergence of Lorde's cancer. She articulates with power and grace and love the difficulty of facing one's own death, her determination to bring all her selves to the battle with cancer, same as the battle against racism, homophobia, sexism. She's a titan, and one whose feet I'd like to remain sitting at as I learn how to go about living my own life. Read this.
Carrie Kellenberger
This book was such a surprise. A Burst of Light is written by a Black Lesbian feminist and it includes a collection of her essays about fighting for civil rights and quite a bit about her journey with cancer. Her short essays on continuing her work with civil rights while coping with her own mortality and the final consequences of her fight with liver cancer are truly remarkable. Her essays really are bursts of light.

This book is a clear proclamation of intersectional feminism in its finest fo
It should be no surprise, I suppose that a poet is able to write so aptly, so beautifully, in such a relatable way about living with terminal illness. It was this that I got so much out of while reading this book, living as I am, too, with a life limiting illness. I’m not even sure Audre herself realized while writing it how much her words would mean not just to the black women facing cancer she so hoped to help but also to women from other backgrounds with completely different illnesses but I t ...more
Luke Hartman
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to those of us who are on the spectrum of injustice (so everyone minus cis straight white men) – I find it depressingly sad that those of us near the top who as Lorde says, are marginal in only one respect, can so easily disregard those of us who have experienced differing and always worse degrees of the oppression we are working to alleviate. The struggles for social justice are not isolated. Feminism spearheaded by white women is going to get about as far as an LGBT movement spea ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ontd-2018
Read this for the ONTD 2018 challenge. The theme was to read a book published in 1934 or written by an author born in 1934.

Being interested in intersectional feminism, as soon as I saw that Audre Lorde was born in 1934, I wanted to read one of her essay collections. Unfortunately, I've purchased far too many books recently and I'm trying to be a little more financially responsible: this book was the only work by Audre Lorde available at my public library.

I don't think that this anthology is the
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was my first time reading Audre Lorde (finally!) and now I can't wait to devour everything she ever wrote. This was the kind of book that you end up highlighting so many great quotes, words you want to memorize, remember, apply, breathe. Lorde shines a light on white feminism and shows us how to persist when the struggle never seems to end - not only as an intersectional feminist, an activist, but also as a person fighting cancer. Empowering read. ...more
Nadav David
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had previously read bits and pieces of Audre Lorde, or seen her work referenced in other places, but this was my first time diving in. These essays were fascinating, beautifully written and inspiring. I found myself re-reading and marking down dozens of paragraphs throughout “Apartheid USA” and “A Burst of Light” (just see my Goodreads quotes page!) - such touching and formative writing for our time and for our movements, many of which continue to be led by powerful Black women.
Jay Michelle Williams
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mother Audre, I was afraid to speak my mind, but you taught me many ways to channel my creative energy. When I look at the stars, I know that you're the brightest--smiling at me from afar. Your final essay, A Burst Of Light made me cry; I felt your pain and your determination not to let it steal from you physically or energetically. I miss you. We shall meet again.

I look forward to reading more of your work.

Yours Truly,

Jay Miche.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A reissuing of Lorde's essays including journal entries over three years when she found out she had liver cancer. Lorde's words, as ever, are poignant and hit you at the bone. Her words embrace you and enlighten you and is accessible in a way some essayists weren't always at the time. And of course what she says stands true to this day. Required reading. ...more
Erika W. Smith
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this is a reissue and it's great! I forgot that I'd actually read this before, in college - I think as individual essays instead of as a collection, though. The one thing I'd suggest is that if you haven't read Lorde before to start with the final essay (really a series of diary entries), "A Burst Of Light," then go back to read the ones at the front of the book. ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
”I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. I am going to write fire until it comes out my ears, my eyes, my noseholes—everywhere. Until it’s every breath I breathe. I’m going to go out like a fucking meteor!”

4.5 stars
Michelle Shneyder
She has some spicy thoughts as expected of such a revolutionary person. I certainly don’t fall in step with some of her logic but I really respect the way she dissects issues and even dissects herself. This book of essays allowed me a look into her mind, into her most fragile moments and I finished it feeling very close to her.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
(I received a free copy from Net Gallery in exchange for an honest review.)

A beautifully personal and deeply poetic collection of writing that gives you a vastly important perspective on a variety of important subjects, I loved it
Robin Mandell
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Audre, Audre. I can't help thinking that it is good you are not here to see how little has changed, especially for women of color.

Audre Lorde was a brilliant writer. Enough said.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nearly 40 years old, still relevant :(

"i revel in the beauty of the faces of black women at labor and at rest. i make, demand, translate satisfactions out of every ray of sunlight, scrap of bright cloth, beautiful sound, delicious smell that comes my way, out of every sincere smile and good wish. they are discreet bits of ammunition in my arsenal against despair. they all contribute to the strengthening of my determination to persevere when the greyness overwhelms, or reagonomics wears me down.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lorde wrote the collected essays/journal entries while facing a terminal liver cancer diagnosis. I was surprised to learn she lived another 6 yrs after this was written! Lots of gems. Here a a couple:
"We are the women we want to become."
"Living fully- how long is no longer the point. How and why take total precendence."
And perhaps most relevant right now (this was written in 1986):
"To acknowledge privilege is the first step in making it available for wider use. Each of us is blessed in some part
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure if there is a difference between the first edition and the 2017 edition which i listened to, but really loved it and was inspired by it quite a lot. Listening to Audre Lorde's words in her journal while she was battling cancer was very special and i'm once again in awe of her honesty and vulnerability and strength and her sharp analyses and i could go on and on. Please read or listen to this book.


p.s. the interview where she shares her thoughts on sadomasochism is very interest
Shelby Lynne
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs-i-adore
Now more than ever you should be reading Audre Lorde.
A mixed bag for me, some fascinating essays, like the first one, some that I struggled with.
Juli Rahel
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title for this collection of essays is from Audre Lorde’s poem ‘Never To Dream of Spiders’, of which ‘a burst of light’ is the last line. This has always been one of my favourite poems by Lorde, despite the fact it partially makes me sad. I always feel like there is a sense of foreboding doom, of misery and death there. And yet the poem also holds beautiful memories of love and togetherness and a sense of perseverance and strength. The reason I want to explain my thought on the poem is becau ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
A good read
Langley Dunn
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading about the particular and poignant ways in which Audre Lorde treasures her life and the lives of those she loves consistently challenges me to honor my own and others' more deeply. ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Audre Lorde was a brilliant and courageous Black Lesbian/Feminist/Poet who died heroically and much too young battling both liver and breast cancer.

This incredible book of essays has a fine foreword by Sister Sonia Sanchez, where she sort of link the issues expounded on by Lorde during her radical and political years to the issues we face today.

There’s also an essay on S/M: Sadomasochism: Not about condemnation; another on Apartheid in USA; one on Lesbian parenting circa 1986; and, Black Women
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Audre Lorde was a revolutionary Black feminist. 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 ...more

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