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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name: Second Edition (Crossing Press Feminist Series) [Paperback]

Audre Lorde
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 July 2001
“ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page.”—Off Our Backs

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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name: Second Edition (Crossing Press Feminist Series) + Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Crossing Press Feminist Series)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crossing Press,U.S.; First Edition edition (24 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895941228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895941220
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

“Zami. Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers.”

In this classic autobiography Audre Lorde combines elements of history, biography and myth to tell her own story. A young black girl grows up in thirties Harlem, a teenager lives through Pearl Harbour, a young woman experiences McCarthyism in fifties Greenwich Village. In and out of this lyrical chronicle move the women – mothers, lovers, friends – who are zami: ‘Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon on me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me – so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognise her.”

“Lorde is a convincing, powerful writer. Her prose speaks directly to the heart of racism, self-acceptance, mother- and womanhood”

“Listen to this rich and raging voice”

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of modern literature 30 May 2002
By A Customer
Reading this book it's almost impossible to believe that Audre Lorde is so little-known outside of the lesbian community - her writing overshadows so much of what is praised by the mainstream press. 'Zami' is her autobiography, tracing her relationship with her family, her experience of growing up black in a country still divided by segregation, the different women that she loved through her life and the development of her artistic career. It never lapses into self-pity or vain self-absorption, and is as engrossing as the best-paced novel. That Lorde was primarily a poet is obvious - her language is incredibly rich and sensual. It took me a year trailing around bookstore to find this work, and it was well worth it.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential American life story 10 Jan 2001
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
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.
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 22 Jun 2004
By Hector Carbajal - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is a �Biomythography�? 30 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zami is amazing! Yet another reason to love Audre Lorde! 7 Oct 1999
By Nedra Johnson (bmgnedra@aol.com) - Published on Amazon.com
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?
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 5 Sep 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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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