Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker (née Karen Lehmann; April 18, 1947 – November 30, 1997) was an American experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, essayist, postmodernist and sex-positive feminist writer. She was strongly influenced by the Black Mountain School, William S. Burroughs, David Antin, French critical theory, philosophy, and pornography. The daughter of Donald and Claire (Weill) Lehman, a wealthy Jewish family, Kathy Acker was born in New York City on April 18. There is some question as to her year of birth, however: the Library of Congress lists her birth year as 1948, a few sources have listed 1947, but most obituaries state that she was born in 1944. The pregnancy was unplanned, and Donald Lehman abandoned the family before Kathy was born; Acker’s relationship with her domineering mother even into adulthood was fraught with hostility and anxiety because Acker felt unloved and unwanted. Her mother soon remarried, a union that Acker later characterized as an essentially passionless marriage to an ineffectual man, and Acker was raised in her mother and stepfather’s respectable upper-middle-class Jewish home on New York’s Upper East Side.

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