The Other Tongue: Audre Lorde’s Textual Authority in Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

  • Mohana Das Research Scholar
Keywords: Acceptance, identity, silence, powerful, embracement, empowering, racism


Audre Lorde, popularly known for her speeches and commanding voice on women role, life, rights and revolutionary attitude, was also a great ‘autobiographer’. Apart from her excellency in the debatable position as a feminist, and civil rights activist, her works have paved a greater voice to the audience. Audre Lorde was self-described who was "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,"……..“dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia." Similarly, Zami (1982) became a receptacle for all her self-described thoughts. The autobiography fuses myth, history, personal thoughts and reminiscences into a flashback style that carries the readers to her informative-memory lane. Zami (1982) stands appropriate to the title “A New Spelling of My Name” as through her prolong quest in society both as a writer and as an activist, she had transformed her thoughts to a dignified freedom struggle. In Zami (1982), her new style (bio-mythography) and technical mastery has been successfully able to present reader a memory lane that is crooked, rough, unpolished, savaged, and bruised of emotional expressions. The unheard tales of society brings out anger and outrage in the her that is delt with positivism and good comprehension. In this particular work, Lorde, throughout her life, talks not only as an artist but as a random being who presents her life, raw, unheard and abled. The narration is filled with flashback, personal notes, pauses with stark delivery that makes the work more powerful. Zami presents through this powerful text, a voice that awakens readers, to identify and accept oneself as it is formed and improvise it with time. This can be justified by her words: “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” The intricated narration through ‘acceptance’ and ‘remembrance’ makes this work a voice for ‘black feminist’, lesbian-feminist’, and feminist of her time, but lay everlasting influence on tradition of literature. Lorde and her Zami (1982) stood out in terms of style, emotional expression and conviction to all people in search of an identity.


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Author Biography

Mohana Das, Research Scholar

Mohana Das is a Research Scholar at Amity University.


1. Lorde, A. (2018). Sister love: the letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989. A Midsummer Night's Press.
2. Lorde, A. (2019). From Zami: A new spelling of my name (pp. 1-8). Routledge.
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4. Burkhard, T. (2020). “A New Spelling of My Name”: Becoming a (Black, Feminist, Immigrant) Autoethnographer Through Zami. Cultural Studies↔ Critical Methodologies, 20(2), 124-133.
5. Hua, A. (2015). Audre Lorde's Zami, Erotic Embodied Memory, and the Affirmation of Difference. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 36(1), 113-135.
6. Powell, K. M. (2021). Audre Lorde’s Intellectual Body: Scripting an Embodied Activism. In Performing Autobiography (pp. 71-96). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
How to Cite
Das, M. “The Other Tongue: Audre Lorde’s Textual Authority in Zami: A New Spelling of My Name”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 10, no. 3, Aug. 2023, pp. 66-80,
Research Papers