School Of Our Lorde

Workshops and Online Learning

Summers Past

School of Our Lorde is an extension of the below-mentioned Summer of Our Lorde study series, that provides transformative community based learning based on unprecedented research into Audre Lorde’s approach to Poetics, Pedagogy, Politics and Publishing.

School of Our Lorde

School of Our Lorde: Poetics, Pedagogy, Politics and Publishing

The School of Our Lorde is comprised of 4 units of Thursday evening sessions that allow participants to deeply engage and build on the work of Audre Lorde as transmitted through the committed (obsessive) research of Alexis Pauline Gumbs on the poetics, teaching practices, political implications and publishing interventions of Audre Lorde’s work (and to enjoy delicious local desserts together) on Thursday evenings.  Participants will also get coursepacks with some exclusive and unpublished materials on/by Lorde.  Participants can choose to participate in one 3 week semester or the entire 4 month process. No one who completes an application and can attend will be turned away.  Engaging, interactive poetic childcare will be provided at every session with amazing activities imagined with and implemented by Beth Bruch!!!!


Poetics: Audre Lorde is best known as a warrior poet.  In February, School of Our Lorde participants will get a change to deeply engage Lorde’s poetry (with the benefit of Lex’s archival research on her revisions) and write their own poetry.  We will meet over dessert on Thursday February 4th, 11th and 18th (Audre’s b-day!!!!) and the poets will perform their own new or transformed work at a community reading on Saturday February 20th.

Apply for the poetics course here:  School of Our Lorde Poetics Application (pdf version)

School of Our Lorde Poetics Application

email applications to or drop them off at the Inspiration Station (email for directions)


Pedagogy: Not everyone knows that Audre Lorde was breaking down the masters house by being a master teacher and librarian.  Do you teach students armed and ready to text message? Well Audre Lorde taught John Jay College of Criminal Justice students who wore loaded guns to class as part of their uniform!!!  Participants in this session will get to see Audre Lorde’s syllabi, and course evaluations, practice their own interpretations of her teaching methods and transform the meaning of education.  Participants also get to help design and facilitate the Audre Lorde Survival School.  We will meet over dessert on Thursday March 4, 11, and 18th.

Apply for the pedagogy course here:School of Our Lorde Pedagogy Application (pdf version)

School of Our Lorde Pedagogy Application (doc version)

email applications to or drop them off at the Inspiration Station (email for directions)

April- (Note! In April we will meet on Wednesdays! 4/14  4/21 and 4/28)

Politics: With a strong emphasis on Lordeian Economics (that’s right!) this unit will allow participants to examine the creative power of difference in practice in community.  Participants will learn about Lorde’s diasporic politics of solidarity, and her critical perspective on Black feminist socialist organizing in 1980’s.  Participants will witness and process the impact of the Safe in Our Streets Durham events of April 16th  created by SpiritHouse and the Durham Harm Free Zone and design action plans.

Apply for the politics course here:  School of Our Lorde Politics Application (pdf version)

School of Our Lorde Politics Application (doc version)

email applications to or drop them off at the Inspiration Station (email for directions)

May (Note! In May we will meet on Wednesdays 5/5, 5/12 and 5/19)


Audre Lorde also learned a lot from struggles with homophobia and gender oppression in the Black Arts Publishing movement and racism in the Feminist publishing movements.  She was instrumental in creating Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press and Winds of Change Press in St. Croix.  This course will allow participants to learn from Audre Lorde’s lessons and to experiment with the contemporary modes of publication practiced by BrokenBeautiful Press, including anarchist self-publishing, podcasting, online pdf publishing, diy fashion and video blogging! We will meet on Thursday May 6th, 13th and 20th.

Apply for the School of Our Lorde Publishing Course here: School of Our Lorde Publishing Application (pdf version)

doc version:  School of Our Lorde Publishing Application

email applications to or drop them off at the Inspiration Station (email for directions)

Believe in intergenerational Black Feminist community education and want all sorts of great ancestral blessings and kisses?  Donate dessert or name a sliding scale scholarship ($150-200 for a particular unit or $400-500 for the whole curriculum) after someone you love!  Email to make it happen!

Summer of Lorde was a study program committed to love and transformation sponsored by…

BrokenBeautiful Press:

BrokenBeautiful Press is based on the basic assumption that love, knowledge and inspiration are renewable resources for revolution that we produce together everyday. Use this site to make love as community, creativity, interaction, knowledge and growth. We are dedicated to the visibility of love as something that we are always making (and therefore which is neither scarce nor for sale). We invite you to acknowledge the ways that you are making love happen all of the time. Please check back often for tools to use in your community and email to submit resources that you have developed and would like to share with the world.


SpiritHouse works each day in local neighborhoods throughout the Triangle and North Carolina. We bring hope, raise consciousness, and work with low-income families and children in need. Learn more about SpiritHouse and how you can get involved with our programs while making a positive change in the community.

SpiritHouse programs focus on education, the arts, health, and economic opportunities. By fighting illiteracy, racism, and poverty, we help needy families with projects that have an impact that’s measurable and lasting. Contact us at

and Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

SONG believes all our identities, issues and lives are connected across race, class, culture, gender and sexuality. SONG is a membership-based, Southern regional organization made up of working class, people of color, immigrants, and rural LGBTQ people. We vision a world where the triple shift factory worker and the drag queen at the bar down the block see their lives as connected and are working together for liberation.

Southerners On New Ground (SONG) was founded in order to advance Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer multi-racial, multi-issued education and organizing capable of combating the Right’s strategies of fragmentation and division.

SONG’s vision of a broad social and economic justice movement across the South, its mission to help build and strengthen that movement, and its strategy of multi-issue organizing remain as relevant, if not more relevant, today as when SONG was founded. SONG came out of conversations of Black and white southern lesbian leaders in 1993, each a long time activist on a broad range of issues, addressing deep concerns about the gains of the far right based on vicious divide and conquer tactics, particularly along fault lines of race, class and sexuality. They also expressed their hopes for helping build a broad social justice and civil rights movement where people and issues were connected and activists could bring their full selves to the organizing work.
SONG currently works to build, connect, and sustain those of us in the South who believe in liberation across all lines of race, class, culture, gender and sexuality, thru a 600 membership of primarily LGBT people. Our core work is around our Traveling Organizing School and campouts, retreats, and outreach that connect ‘the Kindred’ (those who share the dream of SONG) to each other.

Summer of Our Lorde 2008

Discussion I: Uses Of Anger

after reading “Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” by Audre Lorde (available for download at

What is your individual definition of anger? Where did you learn these definitions?

What is your relationship to your own anger? If you had to visually describe what your anger looks like, how would you describe it?

What is the relationship between anger and privilege?

If you are reading this in a group, let us know how the following discussions go…

Can your group create a collective definition of anger?

How is privilege operating in your group? How is anger acknowledged or silenced in your community?

Check out this powerful definition of anger from the Summer of Our Lorde Session @ INCITE DC!

a force and fuel

a feeling and fire

of feminine psychic power

rooted in conflict

that moves

from unbalanced to revolution;

from accusatory to defiant;

from tense to strength;

that incites action and creative expression

out of necessity.


Discussion 2: Mothering Ourselves

Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger

(companion poem “In the House of Yemenja” or “BlackStudies”)

What is your first memory of hatred? What is your first memory of anger?

What is the difference between hatred and anger in your experience?

What anger, fear or hatred do you feel towards other members of your oppressed group?

What desire, anxiety, hope and love do you feel towards fellow members of your oppressed group?

Write a love letter to someone you are angry at, afraid of, competitive with.

What does it mean that “we can learn to mother ourselves”?

What does it mean to find a community “that will not turn away”

I don’t know about y’all, but at the Spirithouse/BrokenBeautiful Press discussion of Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger folks went DEEP! In fact at the “end” of the discussion we felt that there were so many insights to process that we needed a couple of days. We decided to write letters to each other (and maybe to some other folks we want to relate to in the new light of what we learned from Eye to Eye).  Post your thoughts in the comments section! Below is brilliant passage by young Brazilian Scholar/Writer/Sister/Friend Monique Paes about what it might mean to mother ourselves:

women, mulheres,mujeres…
there comes a time in a womans life when her worth is put into question, she questions her worth and forgets her original inestimable value…. this is a time of reflection, it is a dire time for self-analyzation and self preservation and RE-evaluation. It will never be an easy task, but she must hold strong to her principles, whatever they may be, even if they are whimsical. At that time she may compare herself with other women that went before her and those that will come after her, she is in the middle of the road and both sides are apertando-ela*, with her feet on the ground and her eyes towards the sky, she is the intermediate, she IS the change, she is herself at that moment, and she is above all else strong. There is a sense of urgency for her to accomplish, motherhood and a career…awaken…just because you are not yet a mother, or perhaps will never be, you are still a mother to yourself, you are your primary care giver, your primary lover, you awaken the strength within yourself to TAKE CARE of yourself, for how can you take care of others had you not known what it is to love and care for yourself first? It is at that time that she must REMEMBER that unconditional self love is quintessential to survival, and her worth is beyond measure, because she is an original woman and none other will ever be like her after her. Set your pace, and walk your own dream….your evolution comes in small steps, take your own time.
~monique b paes~
*Squeezing her

Discussion 3: Uses of the Erotic

I attended the final session of the ‘Summer of Our Lorde’ study group which discussed Audre Lorde’s piece ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’.

The literary piece itself is unquestionably eye opening. It is the type of work that is foundational and speaks to human nature and instinct at its core. All of that combined with the camaraderie, openness, pearls of wisdom, perspective and experience offered by each beautiful individual in the room fostered a warm, safe and inclusive environment which we all greatly benefited from.

I feel equipped, empowered and increased. I didn’t walk away from the study group with all of the answers to life’s questions. I did however, walk away with a goal in sight and a powerful new lens with which to view my life, actions and relationships. I walked away with many seeds planted and an eagerness to create a life so authentic, powerful and passionate that it must be called EROTIC!

Thank you Alexis and SONG for hosting such a great event!


Peace, Love and Happiness,


4 thoughts on “Summers Past

  1. Anger is a scary thing to me and seems to come from a place of expectation. One must have an expectation that is violated or unmet, which can result in anger. I learned about anger from my father who expected a lot from me that I wasn’t always able to deliver. It was frightening and hurtful not to meet his expectations. Consequently, I generally bite back my own anger, especially when it comes up in the context of people I’m close to because it hurt me so much. I can be angry with the president, a misogynist rapper or two, systems of oppression, but friends and family, not so much. It usually results in passive aggressive behavior where I swallow feelings that can turn into resentment or I sever ties, not at all good strategies for building healthy community. The essay reminds us that it is better to speak when angry than to turn away when things are difficult. It also calls on you who is receiving anger to bear it. To be a witness and not cloak oneself in guilt so that you are not held responsible.
    My anger might look like self implosion if I’m not careful. Needless to say the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing you have one. I’m actively trying to work on that piece of myself.
    Anger and privilege that’s tricky. I think a lot of Lorde’s anger was directed at privilege white women wanted to remain unaccountable for. I think that is definitely connected to the outward anger that fuels my activism. I’m hesitant to say that carries over to interpersonal conflict but I suppose a friend’s sense of entitlement, or someone close to you getting preferential treatment could also produce anger. I think I return to unmet expectations as the primary anger producer in my close relationships which isn’t always about privilege.

    I’m curious about how we respond to what we perceive to be unwarranted anger. How do we hold the space when folks bring us something that we can’t perceive as being something to be upset about? To return to the social justice context, I get so angry, livid even, about the way misogyny is not recognized by men. I feel like i’m jumping up and down screaming “don’t you understand that people violate me (my sisters) without consequence?!” and men (some men) are like “well that’s not my problem because I didn’t do that to you.” How do we hold folks accountable that don’t want to be held?

  2. Hey Sis!
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to the Uses of Anger essay. What you say about anger threatening to implode really resonates with me. i realized…during my intense anger about the duke lacrosse case…that the referential image of my anger is actual the explosion of the 16th street baptist church. that’s literally what i see when i’m repressing my anger, trying to hold it in so the world doesn’t explode.
    and you’re so right…it’s so directly related to misogyny and gender dynamics in our movement. i wrote some about that a while ago here:

  3. Lex, Lex, Lex,

    Where would the world be without you?

    I also posted this as a comment at Firewalking women….

    Yesterday women of color came together to think about Audre Lorde’s words and to think about our anger.

    our collective definition is here:

  4. Pingback: 30 ways to ease the pain after break-up via FemmeCast « jivata sutras.spirit threads

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