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The Black Unicorn: Poems

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,014 Ratings  ·  69 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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Samadrita
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
Dolors
Jul 12, 2014 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
...more
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It’s always hard to review a collection of poems, but this is something I want to do for the words of Lorde because it was an absolutely amazing read. In only two days I had raced through the collection – which says something because you can’t speed read through poetry. When you read a poem, after each and every one you need a moment of pause, of reflection and a gaining of understanding. The fact that this collection only took two days means I wanted to do nothing but immerse myself further in ...more
Leslie Reese
Nov 30, 2014 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
...more
Maie panaga
Jan 20, 2014 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
futures
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
...more
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.
Bianca
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
Andrea Blythe
May 23, 2012 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
...more
Nadja
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
audre lorde is my lesbian mum and i love her poetry and choice of words and everything.
there are funny poems, honest ones, earnest ones, ones about lesbian sex, ones about death, she covers almost every topic possible and does it in a fantastic way. her poetry really touches me.
Sally
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
realer than ever - I'm so glad I read this
Tamara
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, poetry
This was such a good read. I really like Audre Lorde's poems, they are about so many different things from lesbians over race to death and everything in between. They are so interesting and beautifully written.
I think these are the kinds of poems that I need to read more than once to actually *get* them if that makes sense but I loved it anyway. Audre is brilliant in general so I knew this would be good tbh.
Kaitlyn
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first collection by Audre Lorde I've read and it is brilliant. She's a true poet and I loved her word choices and repetition. The themes and messages of this collection were heart-wrenching and still relevant today.
Cristina
Nov 25, 2014 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.
Maria
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Transformative magic
Oren Whightsel
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
again, an amazing book. the poem entitle "power" is my all time favorite.
Daniel Casey
Feb 13, 2015 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
felix
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it

Audre Lorde is one of those writers you just have to read, no rhyme or reason about it. She's polemic and pertinent and her writing arouses such empathy and complete understanding of living and the human experience. Particularly the experiences of black people, but largely black women, in America - there is a fair amount of content about the female experience, but it's intrinsically linked to the different world faced by black women.

This books political messages isn't just the only reason it's
...more
Suzi
I love Audre Lorde's essays so much and ... I ... like her poetry OK. Of course this one has some stunners in it, especially the justly famous "A Litany for Survival."

Also, this one, 42 years post-Bicentennial and also even given what we know about the actual French (not the French Resistance) during the war, seems a little TOO accurate:

BICENTENNIAL POEM # 21,000,000

I know
the boundaries of my nation lie
within myself
but when I see old movies
of the final liberation of Paris
with french tanks rumbli
...more
Susan
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly she is the first queer WOC poet I've read and now I think I must read more, because there is so much in terms of themes and emotions that are highly relevant to me, not to mention to the current political climate. For instance, her poem, "Power" from 1978, is a painful reminder of the events leading to the Black Lives Matter movement. Stylistically she reminds me of both Wislawa Szymborska and T.S. Eliot. I especially enjoyed the aspects of African mythology that show up throughout ...more
Jocelyn
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
If I were a drum
you would beat me
listening for the echo
of your own touch


This is a really powerful collection with some truly moving pieces. In particular, I loved Coping, Sahara, and Eulogy for Alvin Frost. Even though this was written 40 years ago it still feels very contemporary. And sadly, some of the topics (namely police brutality and black people being murdered without respite) are still relevant to our society today.
Lara
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2017
I don't think I really have the brain power right now to do this justice, but this is another really good collection of Lorde's poems. It's much longer than previous volumes, and while it felt somewhat inconsistent to me, there are still a lot of really great poems here. I'd usually list out the ones I really connected with here, and maybe include an actual example poem, but brain fog is making this difficult. Maybe I'll come back to it at some point. For now, suffice to say, it's a good one!
Sara-Jayne
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm blown away with how much this collection of poetry connected me with my badass, powerful feminine energy. I love the allusions to folklore, the strong imagery, and the feelings each individual poem provokes. I don't pretend to understand poetry all that much, but I'm still gonna go ahead and recommend this one.
Scarlet
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
before we were broken apart
we dreamed the crossed swords
of warrior queens
while we avoided each other’s eyes
and we learned to know lonely
as the earth learns to know dead


Audre Lorde's voice in this poetry collection is clear and angry. Her poems magical, heartbreaking, shattering and most of all feminist.

One of the best poetry collections I've read in a long time.
Katie
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Agony and beauty. Carefully contained fury. Really powerful images. Disturbing, heart-wrenching, and altogether human. There is strength here, and survival. I'll be thinking about her words for a long time.
Caroline M
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, classics, lgbt, poetry
good shit

10/10 would read more of
Sonnydee
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's honestly nothing to say about this book but "holy shit."
Celestine
Mar 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
This was just not for me. I couldn't understand not one single poem and felt absolutely no emotional pull while reading them.
Nimitha TR
I loved this collection of poems by Audre Lorde. Absolutely stunning imagery and rich references to African heritage. One of the best collections I have ever read!
Ian
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite set of poems, but they were good anyway.
Sophie
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, essential, a work of poetry that feels like an incantation. Important, still pertinent, and a classic.
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500 Great Books B...: The Black Unicorn: Poems - Audre Lorde - Samadrita 2 16 Oct 28, 2014 06:49AM  
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1,277 followers
Audre Lorde is 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 P ...more
More about Audre Lorde
“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
remembering
we were never meant to survive”
425 likes
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
futures
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
remembering
we were never meant to survive.”
241 likes
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