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Poet/Activist Audre Lorde To Be Inducted Into The American Poets Corner At The Cathedral Of St. John The Divine

Photo courtesy Cathedral Of St. John The Divine

The past year has been dramatically different from those that came before, but the traditions and signature events that have made the Cathedral of St. John the Divine a beloved cultural institution continue, albeit online rather than in-person.

In a twist on one of its long-standing traditions, the Cathedral will celebrate the life and works of Audre Lorde, poet, essayist, feminist, educator, and activist, with a virtual induction ceremony into its American Poets Corner on Feb. 18 at 6 pm online via Zoom.

Readers and participants will include members of Lorde’s family and fellow poets including Dante Micheaux, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Martha Collins, Cathedral Poet in Residence Marie Howe, United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and more to be announced.

Lorde’s writings are both deeply personal and committed to a liberating political vision. Her poems and essays openly discuss her lesbianism, Blackness, motherhood, cancer diagnoses, and many other facets of her life, exploding notions of both white male dominance and cultural homogeny within progressive social movements. These many layers of selfhood, expressed through lyrical writings both prose and poetic, celebrate difference, inviting readers to draw upon their own personal journeys to add to the shared fight for justice and community.  

At the time of Lorde’s election, in the spring of 2020, for induction into the American Poets Corner, the Cathedral still hoped to be able to invite lovers of great literature into its soaring Gothic interior for an in-person ceremony, customarily held in early November. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the need for heightened safety, however, the delayed tribute will instead be held online on Feb. 18, the anniversary of Lorde’s birthday. Even in the context of a digital celebration, important Poets Corner traditions will still be maintained: a memorial stone, carved with Lorde’s dates and a quotation from her poem, “A Litany for Survival,” will be laid in the Cathedral, placing Lorde amongst her fellow American literary giants.  

Later this spring, when the subsequent author is elected for the Cathedral’s ensuing Poets Corner induction, it is anticipated that the ceremony will return to its usual place and time inside the Cathedral’s great Nave, affording the opportunity to celebrate the new inductee, and also to celebrate the induction of Audre Lorde, in person, with friends.   Candidates for induction were nominated by the Electors to the Poets Corner under the guidance of Cathedral Poet in Residence Marie Howe. The American Poets Corner, established in 1984 to memorialize and celebrate American writers, is modeled after a similar alcove at Westminster Abbey in London. Previous inductees include Emily Dickinson, e. e. cummings, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Zora Neale Hurston, and last year’s dual honorees, Harriet Jacobs and Ralph Ellison. The American Poets Corner and Cathedral poetry events have become an integral part of the literary landscape of New York.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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