Audre Lorde (1934–1992) was born and raised in New York City. After graduating from Hunter College and Columbia University, she served as a librarian in New York public schools from 1961 to 1968. The first of Lorde’s numerous poetry collections, The First Cities, was published in 1968, followed in 1970 by Cables to Rage and From a Land Where Other People Live (Broadside Lotus, 1973), which was nominated for a National Book Award. Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and chronicled her struggles in The Cancer Journals (Aunt Lute Books, 1980). Her other prose volumes include Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Crossing Press, 1984) and A Burst of Light (Firebrand, 1988), which won a National Book Award. She taught English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hunter College and was the poet laureate of New York from 1991 until her death in 1992.
Tina Chang was born in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants, who moved to New York City a year later. Chang attended Binghamton University and received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She is the author of Hybrida (Norton, 2019), Of Gods and Strangers (Four Way Books, 2011), and Half-Lit Houses (2004), which was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award. Chang is also coeditor of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (Norton, 2008). She has held multiple residencies, including at MacDowell Colony and Vermont Studio Center, and has received awards from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poets & Writers, among others. In 2010, Chang was elected poet laureate of Brooklyn, where she lives.