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Survival is a Promise by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
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Survival is a Promise

The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde
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Brought to you by Penguin.

A Guardian and Lit Hub most anticipated book of 2024


Read these chapters like a collection of poems that speak in chorus in all directions. Understand each word as an opportunity for Audre’s fierce love, which is the same love that birthed the volcanoes and split the continents, to reach you, wherever you are.

Audre Lorde was a survivor: of childhood disability injustice, of her best friend’s suicide, of the atomic age. She was a college activist against nuclear arms. A mother who knew poetry could help her children survive a racist world. And, ultimately, a cancer survivor, who understood the war going on within her cells was connected to the struggle against oppression taking place all around her.

This stunning new account of Lorde’s life and work illuminates how, for Lorde, survival was not simply about getting through, or about resilience. It was about how to live on, and with, a planet in transformation. Lorde’s commitment to justice was intimately connected to her deep engagement with the natural world; with the planetary dynamics of geology, meteorology, and biology. For Lorde, ecological images are not simply metaphors but rather literal guides to how to be on earth, and how to live fully as a Black feminist lesbian warrior poet.

In Survival Is a Promise, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, the first researcher to explore the full depths of Lorde’s manuscript archives, illuminates the eternal life of Audre Lorde. Her life and work swell to become a cosmic force, showing us the grand possibility of life together on earth.


©2024 Alexis Pauline Gumbs (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, scholar and activist. She has published several books, including Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, and Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, which won a Whiting Award in non-fiction. In 2023, Gumbs received a Windham Campbell Prize for her ‘luminous, visionary poetry’. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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Reviews

An exhilarating account of the feminist and civil rights pioneer Audre Lorde and what she can teach us about navigating today’s fraught politics, from poet and activist Gumbs In addition to being one of our greatest living poets, Gumbs is perhaps our most knowledgeable expert on Audre Lorde’s life and work Only Alexis Pauline Gumbs could have written Audre Lorde's life story in seven dimensions. She is Lorde's spiritual daughter, and Survival Is a Promise is no mere biography - it is a communion, an ancestral divination, a long, intimate walk in which history, poetry, politics and wisdom are passed to a new generation Alexis Pauline Gumbs has been a kindred keeper of Audre Lorde's lesbian warrior poet legacy for nearly two decades. This long-overdue and yet right-on-time biography of the Lorde caresses and transgresses the limits of genre, to care for all the women and girls that Audre Lorde ever was or hoped to be. Nobody tends to Black Girls' stories like Gumbs, who takes Black women deadly, rigorously seriously. This book is a study in mastery of forms, with the kind of sacred irreverence that makes clear who the real geniuses always were. I read this book and could hear the Lorde saying, 'And it was good' Survival Is a Promise is a lightning strike of a biography on The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde. It is poetic in form, political in scope, and revelatory in understanding Lorde's divine relationship to the earth as an ecological thinker. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has created a community of poetic ancestors, including June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, and Fannie Lou Hamer, now eternal sisters with whom she stands alongside in a circle of relationships. Gumbs describes the work of Audre Lorde as 'a black archive of buried photosynthesis.' In her hands, it is pure light in the vitality of the struggle. This singular volume is a force field of love full of prophetic dreaming animating not only what is possible but necessary. Power lives in this book. Chapter by stunning chapter, this spiritual biography made me want to be braver in voice and spirit A passionate and loving evocation of an extraordinary life, Survival is a Promise is moving and inspiring. Alexis Pauline Gumbs conjures up her subject with imagination and inventiveness, producing a portrait of Audre Lorde that is rich and resonant This is the one book I would take with me to my desert Island. I would survive on the nectar of Gumbs rich dark earthy prose and drink in the sweet pain of Lorde's blackness so I can see the hopeful dawn of her fierce love on the horizon and know I will be saved. That's the promise of this book Expand reviews
Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with giveaways, merch, and more! Learn more