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The Advocates 2024: Poet and activist Dr. Cheryl Clarke

The Advocates 2024: Poet and activist Dr. Cheryl Clarke


<p>The Advocates 2024: Poet and activist Dr. Cheryl Clarke</p>
Nivea Castro

The lesbian poet, essayist, scholar, and educator's career and activism have been going strong for over four decades.

Dr. Cheryl Clarke is a radical Black lesbian poet, essayist, scholar, and educator whose career and activism has been going strong for over four decades now. After attending the famous March on Washington in her teens, Clarke began experimenting with poetry during her time at Howard University in the 1960s and became involved in the burgeoning Black Arts Movement. In the 1970s and ’80s, she collaborated with grassroots feminist publishers such as Kitchen Table and Firebrand Books and started the lesbian feminist magazine Conditions. As part of the Combahee River Collective, Clarke worked alongside icons of the movement like Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde.

Cheryl Clarke's new book 'Archive of Style' is a collection of both older and new poems by the author.courtesy of Northwestern University Press

Now, she’s releasing the most comprehensive collection of her work yet, Archive of Style. The book is filled with Clarke’s poems from the 1980s to the present (some previously unpublished) in addition to newspaper clippings and song lyrics. In “living as a lesbian underground,” she writes: “Don’t be taken in your sleep now. / Call your assailant’s name now. / Leave signs of struggle. / Leave signs of triumph. / Leave signs.”

In addition to being the author of several award-winning poetry collections over the years, including Narratives, Experimental Love, and By My Precise Haircut, Clarke was an influential educator at Rutgers University for over 40 years. She currently lives in Hobart, New York, where she owns and operates Blenheim Hill Books with her partner, and also co-organizes the annual Hobart Festival of Women Writers.

The Advocates is an annual feature celebrating 10 artists, activists, advocates, and others who strive to make the world a better place for all. Click hereto read about our other honorable Advocates, including cover star Cyndi Lauper!

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