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Friday, February 19, 2010

Poetry Friday--Lucille Clifton, 1936-2010

We lost one of our outstanding African American poets last week. Lucille Clifton died at the age of 73 in Baltimore, MD.

On our shelf we have a signed copy of good woman: poems and a memoir 1969-1980 [811 CLI], which I picked up at a Clifton signing back in 1999. Here's a joyous poem from the book that I would like to share in celebration of Clifton's life:
the poet

i beg my bones to be good but
they keep clicking music and
i spin in the center of myself
a foolish frightful woman
moving my skin against the wind and
tap dancing for my life.
I don't believe the tap dancing is against her will, do you?

Adults may not realize that Clifton was also a writer for children. Her picture book, Everett Anderson's Goodbye [JP CLI], is often recommended as a book to use with children who have to deal with a death, since it succinctly covers the stages of grief and is written for a child, not an adult.

Clifton's passion and compassion will be missed.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Irene Latham. Congratulations to Irene on the release, last month, of her first novel for children, Leaving Gee's Bend. (It is on order and should arrive shortly.)


  1. I loved Lucille Clifton. I'm glad we can still love her books.

    Laura Evans

  2. I had a chance to participate in a poetry reading with Clifton last year. What a gracious person she was. Thanks for the post!

  3. I agree with Laura. And Amok, what a wonderful opportunity to have been on the stage with Clifton. Public readings tend to bring out the best or the worst in writers, and it sounds like in Clifton, it brought out the best. May she rest in peace knowing that she has left a legacy behind.

  4. Beautiful--we can all use some tap dancing lessons from her!