Friday, May 11, 2007

Congratulations, Ms. Lucille!

Earlier this week, the Poetry Foundation announced that Lucille Clifton won the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She is an exceptional poet, knowledgeable in the craft and in the ways poetry can educate and entertain. Her style is all her own, with her subject matter, lack of punctuation, her economical use of words, and use of lower case letters and the “i”--to name a few of the qualities that makes her poetry unique.

I choose not to have any regrets in life. But, I will always, always, ALWAYS regret not taking a class with Ms. Lucille. Came close once. She was scheduled to teach at NYU while I was a graduate student, but took she ill and wasn’t able to be in New York City that semester (got stuck with a poet/instructor I hated). She’s also a friend of Cave Canem, so I’ve been in close company with her, but never had the opportunity to study with her.

It has been my privilege to see Ms. Lucille read many times, in venues as intimate as a country church and as large as 5,000 standing room only. Like Phil Levine, she is a living representation of how I want to live my life as a poet. As a black women, she has said in interviews that when her first book came out, she had six children under the age of 8. So when I think there’s no way I can find time for poetry, I think of her. And when I think of her, one word comes to mind: true.

I really could go on, but suffice it to say congratulations to Lucille Clifton for winning such a prestigious honor. You are an inspiration to us all.

“won’t you celebrate with me”

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

~Lucille Clifton


LJCohen said...

"come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed."

Wow. That sent chills up and down my spine. Thank you for posting this gem from Lucille Clifton.

A well deserved honor for an iconic poet. I loved hearing her at Dodge.


ps--happy mother's day, January!

GreenishLady said...

Oh, that poem lifted my heart, or stirred it, or bounced on it... It affected it, anyway! Thanks for sharing it, and the news of this honour for a fine poet. I'll be off to look out some of her work to read again.

poet with a day job said...

Good for LC and Happy Mother's Day to you!

I had Lucille in a workshop at Squaw was pretty cool...

January said...

PWADJ--I'm totally jealous. I've heard she's an amazing teacher.

Hope you have a nice day!


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