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Poems Are Not a Luxury: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich

January 28, 2020 @ 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM



The Bureau is excited to partner again with the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research to bring you:

Poems Are Not a Luxury: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich

Instructor: Amy Schiller

“Poetry is liberative language,” wrote Adrienne Rich. “Poems are not a luxury,” argued Audre Lorde. How can we understand these claims about the intersection of poetry and politics? This course delves into the lives and works of Rich and Lorde, as we explore their respective poetic oeuvres. To Rich and Lorde, liberation was a through-line of experience between eros, politics, and language. And both express in their works understandings of gender, sexuality, and the body. In a famous interview between the two writers, they discuss poetry as the language of the dark, the feminine, the unconscious; we will explore this tendency in their work and the ways in which their respective renderings of the feminine influenced the trajectory of feminist theory and politics in the mid and late-20th century. Their conversations with one another, and treatments of their legacies by Claudia Rankine, Lisa L. Moore, Marilyn Hacker and others, will inform our investigation of poetry as part of feminist theory. How do Rich and Lorde navigate antiracism and intersectionality among allies with different race and class affiliations? How does poetic form contribute to their political practice? Readings will include Diving Into The Wreck, The Fact of a Doorframe, Uses of the Erotic, Sister Outsider, and the Arts of the Possible, among others.


The Bureau sells copies of

Adrienne Rich’s Diving Into The Wreck and Arts of the Possible,

Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, which includes the essay “Uses of the Erotic,”

and other titles by both Lorde and Rich. Please support the Bureau by buying books from us! Thank you!


Course Schedule

January 28, February 4, 11, and 18, 2020
Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30pm
4 sessions


Registration is required. Please click here.


*Three scholarship spaces are reserved in each course because we realize that not everyone can afford to pay the full fee for our courses. Students who cannot pay the full fee should email us at to learn about our scholarship options. We will not ask questions about your financial situation but we do ask that you use the system in good faith and consider the needs of other students and faculty members.


The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division is an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space hosted by The LGBT Community Center in Manhattan.


The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research is an organization of young scholars in New York City, founded in November 2011 by a few then-graduate students at Columbia University with a shared interest in pedagogy and genuinely interdisciplinary conversation. We teach classes all over the city, record a regular podcast, run a digital humanities initiative to preserve rare and out-of-print academic texts, and in general work frantically at any given time on a broad range of other academic and para-academic projects. We are a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization.





January 28, 2020
6:30 PM - 9:30 PM


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