The Film

“Audre Lorde has been a pioneer in making available her voice as a teacher, a survivor, an activist, and a crusader against bigotry,” says filmmaker Ada Gay Griffin, who made A Litany for Survival with co-director Michelle Parkerson. The two spent eight years collaborating with Lorde, weaving together a richly textured portrait of a gifted, strong-willed woman who embraced life’s moments and focused her energies to fight for civil justice, women’s equality, and lesbian and gay rights.

A Litany for Survival features interviews with many of Lorde’s fellow poets and activists, including Adrienne Rich, Sapphire, and Sonia Sanchez, all of whom pay tribute to Lorde’s impact as a mentor and inspirational force.

Raised in Harlem, the daughter of West Indian immigrants, Lorde started writing poetry to express bottled-up feelings. Though her advisor told her it was “a bad sonnet,” her first poem was published in Seventeen magazine while she attended Hunter High School. In 1968, amid escalating racial tensions, she accepted an invitation to become the poet in residence at Tugaloo College, a small black college in Jackson, Mississippi.

Lorde published more than a dozen poetry collections and six books of prose from 1968 to 1993. In 1979, she addressed the first national march for lesbian and gay liberation in Washington, D.C.

Once her cancer was diagnosed in 1978, Lorde became even more focused. For the next 14 years, Lorde battled the cancer as it metastasized through her body. In an unusually poignant creative exchange, she continued to collaborate with Griffin and Parkerson who were rushing to complete the film as Lorde neared the end of her life.

The Filmmakers

  1. Ada Gay GriffinProducer
  2. Michelle ParkersonProducer