One fascinating thing about poetry and prose is its ability to transcend generations, especially when the author of those works addressed difficult topics that altered the course of history. The late Audre Lorde did all of that and more. Born in New York to Caribbean parents, she effortlessly entwined African lore and modern existence. Her outspoken demeanor could be sensed in everything she published, bringing light to issues affecting various minority groups that unfortunately still yearn for equal rights today.

As a member of the LGBTQ community, Lorde spoke brazenly about the complexities of being a Black, lesbian woman in the 1970s and 1980s. She merged her personal experiences with her political views to produce a number of pieces that served as the blueprint for how wordsmiths after her followed a similar path.

She's one of the rare people who can be attributed to hundreds of quotes, but these five sayings are a great introduction into the mind of one of the most gifted authors of the 20th century.

1. On maintaining authenticity

“As a Black lesbian mother in an interracial marriage, there was usually some part of me guaranteed to offend everybody’s comfortable prejudices of who I should be. That is how I learned that if I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

Said in February 1982 while delivering the keynote address during Harvard’s celebration of Malcolm X Week, Lorde emphasized that it’s important to remain true to yourself. She understood early on she was an anomaly, and wouldn’t allow anyone to define or categorize her as someone other than what she portrayed to be. Considering certain facets of modern society functions on validation (e.g., “likes”), it’s important to remember no one has power over your own decision-making or personality quite like yourself.

2. On bravery

“I have come to believe over and over that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

Found in The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action, Lorde is reiterating the importance of speaking up, especially when it pertains to a topic someone is particularly passionate about. There’s always a chance that people may not agree or with or even misinterpret whatever statement is being made; that shouldn’t deter anyone from authentically expressing themselves.

3. On the necessity of self-care

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

In order to be there for other people, a person must have the strength to be able to take care of themselves, which is why self-care is so essential. Not to mention, it shouldn't be seen as a privilege to be able to have access to health care, a well-balanced diet or anything else necessary for human survival. Considering she wrote so much about Black Americans systemically being at a disadvantage compared to their white counterparts, this statement written in 1988’s A Burst of Light: and Other Essays still holds significant relevance today.

4. On the relationship between women

“The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”

Contained in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Lorde essentially explains that although women have endured their own share of struggles, love has always prevailed over those tribulations. As women mature, so do their life experiences. Nevertheless, the concept of love remains at the center of those circumstances.

5. On pain

"Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.”

Pain is a necessary part of human survival, and certainly an indication of growth. Everyone will endure some sort of suffering, but this particular excerpt from Conversations with Audre Lorde implies that how we respond to and evolve from turmoil shapes are future behavior when a similar situation arises in the future.

Audre Lorde devoted her career to pointing out the harsh injustices Black Americans and women faced on a consistent basis. Though it’s been decades since much of her work was published, her words are eternal and still speak directly to an array of audiences worldwide. She encouraged critical thinking, self-reflection and most importantly, authenticity. Many writers since her have articulated similar themes in their work, but Audre Lorde remains the blueprint.