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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) Paperback – January 1, 1982

4.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A writer, activist, and mother of two, Audre Lorde grew up in 1930s Harlem. She earned a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University, received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for poetry, and was New York State’s Poet Laureate from 1991 to 1993. She is the author of twelve books, including ZAMI and THE BLACK UNICORN. Lorde died of cancer at the age of fifty-eight in 1992.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossing Press; First edition (January 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895941228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895941220
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on January 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
In "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name," poet Audre Lorde has written a text she calls a "biomythography." I think of "biomythography" as a literary form that blends elements of autobiography, the novel, and personal mythology. But however you define the word, "Zami" is a powerful and beautiful text which illuminates the life of an African-American lesbian in the mid-20th century.
"Zami" begins with the young Audre and her parents, a Black immigrant couple who had settled in New York City. Lorde writes in detail of her cultural heritage from the Caribbean island of Grenada. From her childhood in Harlem to her young adulthood, the book is full of fascinating episodes and poetic language. Lorde's description of using her mother's traditional mortar and pestle to grind spices in the Caribbean style is a particular tour-de-force of sensuous language.
Lorde describes the roots of her life as a poet. She also vividly recalls what it was like to be a young Black lesbian in the 1950s. This particular aspect of "Zami" gives the book a special historical value. Lorde's narrative captures many of the cultural and political particulars of that era.
Audre Lorde attained a distinguished literary reputation as both a poet and essayist. But serious readers of Lorde must not miss her extraordinary "biomythography." This is an essential American life story which ranks up there with those of Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Jacobs, Malcolm X, and other important figures. Whether you're interested in the Caribbean-American experience, African-American literature, lesbian studies, or mid-20th century United States history, you will want to explore "Zami."
In this book Audre Lorde writes, "Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me." If you read "Zami," Lorde just might leave a lasting print upon you.
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Format: Paperback
In "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name: A Biomythography," Audre Lorde writes that "[e]very woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me." Thus, "Zami" serves as a window into Lorde's experiences with other women-especially her mother-who informed and shaped her life from childhood into adulthood within the context of romantic links and friendships, especially during turbulent and conflicting periods in American history. For example, Lorde describes a difficult childhood at school and at home during the poverty ridden 1930s. Especially revealing about this moment in time is Lorde's fascination with her mother's strength and courage amidst racial discrimination-which, according to Lorde, went unnamed. As a result, she grew up in a world where difference was much more assumed rather than defined and interrogated.
Consequently, this colored Lorde's world later as she formed special bonds with other women, which she termed "The Branded," a group of Lorde's "sisterhood of rebels," who used difference as a bond to challenge the status quo. This form of difference became pronounced, in addition to racial and gender difference, when sexuality became a threat during an intense anti-communist hysteria in the 1950s, which equated homosexuality with communist affiliation. In sum; to be black, female and queer in white McCarthy Amerika was a triple threat from which loneliness would emerge as a central factor plaguing Lorde's life.
However, Lorde's romantic links and friendships with other women would shape her survival and leave an everlasting legacy for later generations of lesbian women, especially black lesbian women. Tragically, some of Lorde's experiences with love and friendships were shattered by loss and mourning.
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Format: Paperback
Audre Lorde, best known for her gifted poetery and essays, leaves us with this striking autobiography of her early years as a writer, and as a struggling black lesbian in NYC. Slowly, through gentle inflections of her Grenadian roots and development of the ideas of Caricou society, she stitches together a number of very personal 'mythographies,' ultimately weaving a passionate, touching and mythic telling of her life.

Beautifully told, fascinating to read, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
One of the things I loved about this book was how descriptive Audre is about everything. She has the amazing ability to really put me right in the scene, because her attention to details paints such a vivid picture. You can almost taste what she is eating, touch what she is touching and so on... Audre's work often makes people hold her up as if she was more then human, this book let's you know how very human she was and for me, it let's me know how important it is to be "doing my work," as she put it in the "Transformation of Silence." Hey, are you doing yours?
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Format: Paperback
Zami was one of the first books i read in my teens that helped me deal with the loneliness of being a young black woman in this world. It touched me and understood every word of the pain she felt...this book is a classic
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Definitely one of the best books ever written. I often have my students read it because regardless of their backgrounds they find some level of connection to the text. This is a novel that is so multifacted that everyone can enjoy it. I recommend it without hesitation.
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