WE WANT TO FIRST HONOR the many varied forms of work done by all teachers. In particular, Iemanjá wants to recognize the importance of her sister, Tara, who has always lent her the words for getting out and then going back in. Iemanjá wants to also honor and express gratitude to Marilyn Ewing, her fourth and fifth grade teacher, for cracking open a new world where mutual care is priority, and careful attention is paid to the richness of experience before ever putting words to paper.
In further tribute to formative moments of guidance and kinship, Miriam would like to acknowledge Andrea Spain, doctoral student and adjunct instructor teaching in the SUNY Buffalo Comparative Literature department back in 2003. As a teacher, Andrea lived Donna Haraway’s and Elizabeth Grosz’s theories of queer embodiment, conjuring for her undergraduate students—Miriam among them—the numerous possible visions of how a rigorously examined feminist life might be enacted.
We have both been in awe of the relationships that we have sustained around the CUNY teaching materials of three of the writers in this series: Audre Lorde, June Jordan and Toni Cade Bambara. The scholars who have spent time on these chapbooks have engaged in endless hours of playing, scheming, and editing with us. Thank you Lauren Bailey, William Camponovo, Makeba Lavan, Conor Tomás Reed, Talia Shalev, Öykü Tekten and Wendy Tronrud. We also want to thank the CUNY scholars working on Lorde who spent time discussing her work with us, among them Kristin Moriah, Tonya Foster, and Meredith Benjamin.
Carmen Kynard sat with us over pierogis and borscht in a dark little restaurant in midtown, sharing her experience as a teacher at John Jay College. Her insight and mentorship have been invaluable to us. Jerry Markowitz, also at John Jay, helped guide us toward a better understanding of Lorde’s work to establish a Black and Puerto Rican Studies department there in the 70s. Simone Bikel Allmond, Jacqueline Brown, and Sarah Schulman generously took the time to share their memories of studying with Lorde at Hunter College.
Strangers and friends offered us space to do this work—opening up rituals of discussion and collaboration. Michael Taussig lent his house in the woods to the editors of the CUNY teaching materials in this series. There, we convened next to the fire, in the river—and especially at the kitchen table—amid a treasure trove of books and artworks to help inspire our writing. The Homostead, a dreamy off- the-grid utopia in the middle of Atlanta, hosted Iemanjá. She thanks those queers, especially Tanner Slick, who fed her, lent her bikes, and talked to her for as long as the night persisted. The most important space was of course the archive at Spelman College, where Kassandra Ware lent her expertise warmheartedly.
Lorde’s children, Jonathan Rollins and Elizabeth Rollins-Lorde, generously directed us to Regula Noetzli of the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Many thanks to Regula for her swift and precise responses to our requests and for her work on behalf of the estate of Audre Lorde. Blanche Wiesen Cook helped facilitate contact with the Lorde estate.
Finally, the family of editors at Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative and at the Center for the Humanities have provided infinite support through this process. Josh Schneiderman and Megan Paslawski double-checked our transcriptions against the originals. Kendra Sullivan offered consistent wisdom, especially in her ability to organize conversations amongst all the editors of this series in fun and generative settings. Stephon Lawrence edited with swift skill and juggled a hectic publication schedule with finesse. Ammiel Alcalay and Kate Tarlow Morgan have accommodated our passion for this project since the beginning. We want to thank them for their editing and their strong encouragement throughout.