March is Women’s History Month, and to get a head start in honoring the legacy of our sisters, we reached out to Julie R. Enszer—editor of Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989—to gain some insight into Sinister Wisdom‘s latest offering.
For the first time, readers are being granted an intimate look at the friendship between the two feminist trailblazers via a cohesive collection of illuminating memos. Here, Enszer walks us through the early days of the book’s inception, as well as her hopes for how the collection impacts readers.
Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker is available now via A Midsummer Night’s Press.
On the Process of Pulling the Letters Together:
“When I first heard about the existence of the letters, from Parker’s partner at the time of her death, I was excited to read them. There are few correspondences on the record between Black lesbian feminist women. I read the letters in Pat Parker’s papers (which are now at the Schlesinger) and in the archival records of Firebrand Books, the publisher of Parker’s poetry. In putting the book together, I also examined the copies of the letters in Lorde’s archives at Spelman College.
I delighted in reading the letters; I love handwritten correspondences. In compiling them for a contemporary audience, I wanted to preserve the voices of the both women and also provide some notes for people to have more context for the letters and explanations of the people discussed and the allusions made in them.”
On the Significance of Black Lesbian Feminist Friendship:
“These letters open up the friendship between Lorde and Parker in powerful and intimate ways. They invite a powerful understanding of how much the two women valued one another and the communities of writers and readers around them. Seeing both women in community together, in a beloved friendship relationship, reminds contemporary readers that while they may be iconic writers now, during their lifetimes, both Parker and Lorde were human and valued their connections with each other.
Sister Love is also significant because it brings attention to the letters of two Black Lesbian, feminist women. Many writers, after their deaths, have collections of letters and journals published for readers and critics to consider their work anew. These types of collections are less common for marginalized writers, particularly for Black queer, feminist writers. Attending to their literary legacies in their fullness is part of the vision of this book.”
On Hopes for Reception:
“Ultimately, I want readers to go back to the poems and prose of both Lorde and Parker. Many people continue to read Lorde’s work; Parker’s is equally meaningful in the contemporary moment. Both women wrote powerful poems and prose pieces that speak and add meaning to our lives today.”
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