Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton Poems

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
...

my daddy has paid the rent
and the insurance man is gone
and the lights is back on
and my uncle brud has hit
...

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
...

if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if
...

There is a girl inside.
She is randy as a wolf.
She will not walk away and leave these bones
to an old woman.
...

whatever slid into my mother's room that
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling.
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
...

when I watch you
wrapped up like garbage
sitting, surrounded by the smell
of too old potato peels
...

she
stolen from my bone
is it any wonder
i hunger to tunnel back
...

boys
i don't promise you nothing
but this
what you pawn
...

what does this mean.
to see walking men
wrapped in the color of death,
to hear from their tongue
...

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
...

it is all blood and breaking,
blood and breaking, the thing
drops out of its box squalling
into the light. they are both squalling,
...

13.

for mama

remember this.
she is standing by
...

listen children
keep this in the place
you have for keeping
always
...

fox

who
can blame her for hunkering
...

16.

it lay in my palm soft and trembled
as a new bird and i thought about
authority and how it always insisted
on itself, how it was master
...

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
...

harriet
if i be you
let me not forget
to be the pistol
...

you are the one
i am lit for.
Come with your rod
that twists
...

20.

ask me to tell how it feels
remembering your mother's face
turned to water under the white words
of the man at the shoe store. ask me,
...

Lucille Clifton Biography

an American writer and educator from Buffalo, New York. From 1979–1985 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. Common topics in her poetry include the celebration of her African American heritage, and feminist themes, with particular emphasis on the female body. Life and career Lucille Clifton (born Thelma Lucille Sayles) grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1953. She went on to study on a scholarship at Howard University from 1953 to 1955, and after leaving over poor grades, studied at the State University of New York at Fredonia (near Buffalo). In 1958, she married Fred James Clifton, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Buffalo, and a sculptor whose carvings depicted African faces. Lucille worked as a claims clerk in the New York State Division of Employment, Buffalo (1958–1960), and as literature assistant in the Office of Education in Washington, D.C. (1960–1971). Writer Ishmael Reed, introduced Mrs. Clifton to her husband Fred, while he was organizing The Buffalo Community Drama Workshop. Fred and Lucille Clifton starred in the group's version of "The Glass Menagerie" which was called "Poetic and Sensitive" by The Buffalo Evening News. In 1966, Reed took Mrs. Clifton's poetry to Langston Hughes, who included them in his anthology "The Poetry Of The Negro." In 1967, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Her first poetry collection Good Times was published in 1969, and listed by The New York Times as one of the year's 10 best books. From 1971 to 1974, Lucille Clifton was poet-in-residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore. From 1979 to 1985, she was Poet Laureate of the state of Maryland. From 1982 to 1983 she was visiting writer at Columbia University School of the Arts and at George Washington University. In 1984, her husband died of cancer. From 1985 to 1989, Clifton was a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College of Maryland. From 1995 to 1999, she was Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2006, she was a fellow at Dartmouth College. Themes Lucille Clifton traced her family's roots to the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, now the Republic of Benin. Growing up she was told by her mother, "Be proud, you're from Dahomey women!" She cites as one of her ancestors the first black woman to be "legally hanged" for manslaughter in the state of Kentucky during the time of Slavery in the United States. Girls in her family are born with an extra finger on each hand, a genetic trait known as polydactyly. Lucille's two extra fingers were amputated surgically when she was a small child, a common practice at that time for reasons of superstition and social stigma. Her "two ghost fingers" and their activities became a theme in her poetry and other writings. Health problems in her later years included painful gout which gave her some difficulty in walking. Work Her series of children's books about a young black boy began with 1970's Some of the Days of Everett Anderson. Everett Anderson, a recurring character in many of her books, spoke in authentic African-American dialect and dealt with real life social problems. Her work features in anthologies such as My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry (Ed. Arnold Adoff), A Poem of Her Own: Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today (Ed. Catherine Clinton), Black Stars: African American Women Writers (Ed. Brenda Scott Wilkinson) and Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology (Ed. Lauret E. Savoy, Eldridge M. Moores, and Judith E. Moores (Trinity University Press). Studies about her life and writings include Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton (LSU Press, 2004) by Hilary Holladay and Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters (Praeger, 2006) by Mary Jane Lupton. Awards She received a Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970 and 1973, and a grant from the Academy of American Poets. She has received the Charity Randall prize, the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review, and an Emmy Award. Her children's book, Everett Anderson’s Good-bye, won the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award. In 1988, she became the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. For 1991/1992, she was awarded the Shelley Memorial Award. She received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 1996. Her volume, Blessing the Boats: New and Collected Poems 1988–2000 won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2000. From 1999 to 2005, she served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. In 2007, Clifton won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; the $100,000 prize honors a living U.S. poet whose "lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." Clifton is set to receive the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement posthumously, from the Poetry Society of America.)

The Best Poem Of Lucille Clifton

Homage To My Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

Lucille Clifton Comments

Leanna Ford 26 October 2020

Ms. Clifton wrote a poem entitled Leanna how can I get a copy

0 0 Reply
* Sunprincess * 27 June 2014

...............happy birthday Lucille Clifton! ! !

24 5 Reply
Tony Nyen 25 November 2009

Homage to my Hips By Lucille Clifton She uses a figurative metaphor “Hips” to represent her personal characteristics. She has powerful, mighty, and magic hips. She is proud of her body. She is an independent woman not to enslave to anyone even her husband. She can sway her husband around like a top. The broader mean is that “man” stand for people. She can sway people conception about her, her race, her identity as a black woman. Her Hips need more space to move around means very little in physical aspect but it has more meaning as she, a black woman, would like to have more freedom, freedom to go outside socially than to be confined in a limited space at home.

39 17 Reply
Tony Nyen 25 November 2009

Homage to my Hips By Lucille Clifton She uses a figurative metaphor “Hips” to represent her personal characteristics. She has powerful, mighty, and magic hips. She is proud of her body. She is an independent woman not to enslave to anyone even her husband. She can sway her husband around like a top. The broader mean is that “man” stand for people. She can sway people conception about her, her race, her identity as a black woman. Her Hips need more space to move around means very little in physical aspect but it has more meaning as she, a black woman, would like to have more freedom, freedom to go outside socially than to be confined in a limited space at home.

35 21 Reply

Lucille Clifton Quotes

Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.

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