This is my first foray into Lorde’s writing as I don’t typically read poetry. That being said, Lorde’s writing is gorgeous, visceral, and still holds so much truth even close to 40 years after “Sister Outsider” was originally published. That’s really why I wanted to read this, to better understand and educate myself on racism and sexism in a way that I, as a white woman, don’t experience and don’t see the way that black women do, or lesbian POC would experience. I learned so much from this collection of essays and interviews, both about feminism and racism. It took me much longer to get through this relatively short book because I often had to sit with what I just read, to really digest it and hear what Lorde had to say, which is written with incredible passion. But it also took me awhile to finish because the organization of the different essays wasn’t well thought out, and the different essays got a little repetitive.
Even though I haven’t read any of Lorde’s work before this, I don’t think it’s completely necessary, either. Will you have a deeper appreciation for some of the included speeches in this book if you are already familiar with Lorde’s work? Absolutely! But not having that doesn’t take away from the message in these essays, nor does it diminish the impassioned way Lorde writes. That being said, it’s hard to say which of the collection was my favorite in this book. I think Lorde’s writing in the later essays in this book struck me the hardest, like The Uses of Anger, Learning from the 60’s, and Eye to Eye, mainly because Lorde’s passion, rage, and despair are so clear-eyed in those essays.
This book requires a lot of brain power to read, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but just know ahead of time that this is a book that demands your full attention for every line of every page, and if you don’t give it that, you’ll have a harder time understanding things. Lorde states her views clearly and powerfully about intersectionality before it really was a thing, but inevitably because this is a collection of independent work, there is repetition and disjointedness between the different essays. That's the only reason why this gets 4 stars from me instead of 5. If you’re looking for a book on feminism and social justice, Lorde’s words are still a must read!
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!