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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential American life story
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...
Published on January 9, 2001 by Michael J. Mazza

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15 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but also commonplace
A strong voice in both African-American women's literature and lesbian literature, Audre Lorde is likely someone as alien to my experience as anyone could possibly be. Well, at least someone who was born and raised in the U.S. At first, I found this biography fascinating, but it began to tire me about halfway through. I don't know what I was expecting, but I felt like...
Published on June 8, 2003 by Glen Engel Cox


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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential American life story, January 9, 2001
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Portrait of a Difficult Life Shaped By Zami, June 22, 2004
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (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. Nevertheless, the collected instances of intimacy with other women shaped her life as a queer woman of color defining "Zami," a term specifying women working in unison as lovers and/or friends.
Lorde meticulously unfolds her narrative by using imagery and symbols as a way from which to tell her life story on an intimate level. The choice of words and images are compelling. For example, her trip to Mexico is described so vividly that I almost feel as I am there. Her description of New York gave me a sense of what life was like during a poverty ridden period in an urban setting. The description of clothes, faces, and bodies-especially within an erotic context-are remarkable. In sum, Lorde was a poet genius in her prose alongside her poetry.
"Zami" is an excellent read for courses in Women's Studies, Women's History, Women's Autobiography, African American Studies, Queer Studies, Lesbian and Gay Studies, and ethnic studies.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is a �Biomythography�?, July 30, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zami is amazing! Yet another reason to love Audre Lorde!, October 7, 1999
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcends race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation!!, July 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (Paperback)
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book for those sisters who know OUR pain, September 4, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I love women, September 7, 2005
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (Paperback)
I had been putting off this book for about 4 years and I finally read it. I was putting it off because I read the first chapter and it was dry. I have to tell you that it gets better down the road. Audre is not just talking about lesbianism, she is talking about being a woman and general. You can get good relationship advice by NOT following what she did in her relationships. I was exposed to lesbianism of 20-30 years ago in this book. It's so different now and for women (of all sexualities and colors) this book is for you.

The only problem is that the beginning drags but once you are pass...let's say page 40 or the younger years you will be fine. Concerned, scared, hopeful...these are the things I felt for Audre. If you can't deal with the beginning put it down. However, I want you to know...one day I am sure you will pick it up again; or you should.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, April 15, 2013
By 
Andree G. Robinson Neal (Southern California, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (Paperback)
Ms. Lorde was definitely a master storyteller. This walk through her life takes the reader deep into the experience of Harlem at a particular time in history, into what it was like for Ms. Lorde to navigate the world as she saw and lived it, and into her growth as a writer and a woman. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, February 26, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (Paperback)
Bought this on the recommendaton of a friend who read it during a women studies course. Deeply personal story that traces a life of love and heartbreak. The biggest appeal was the Caribbean connection. Very touching and interesting story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genre Expanding, August 8, 2014
This review is from: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series) (Paperback)
This book expanded my mind! Lorde blows the lid off of memoir and autobiography bringing in her own myth and imagination. Great lesbian story with beautiful characterization.

forever,
Annie

Annie Lanzillotto
author of "L is for Lion: an italian bronx butch freedom memoir" SUNY Press
and "Schistsong" BORDIGHERA Press

www.annielanzillotto.com

L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir (SUNY series in Italian/American Culture)
Schistsong (Via Folios)
Blue Pill
Carry My Coffee (Live)
Eleven Recitations
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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography (Crossing Press Feminist Series)
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