Lucille Clifton: Spell/Woman/Poet

Posted on Posted in Black Library Girl, Click on This, Sweetness & Light, Uncategorized

Anybody who knows even a little bit about me knows that Lucille Clifton is my absolute favorite poet in the world. That might have something to do with my loving her so much—as in present tense, even though she joined the ancestors two years ago today. She was my friend and my beloved mentor, a real gift to me in this world and, I believe, in the next.

But it’s one of those strange things. Do I love Miss Lucille (as I called her) so much because her poems were so good or are the poems so good because I love her so much? Or, would I have loved her anyway, even without the poems?

I don’t know and guess what?  The thought of living in a world where Lucille Clifton did not create poems for me to read is a frightening brain moment. So let’s move on before I linger there.

I celebrate Miss Lucille three times a year now. I celebrate her on February 13, the day she passed on to the ancestors who lived with her in her spirit and in her poems, and that is understandably a really sad day for me. But then, I celebrate her again on Mother’s Day, because she had six of her own children whom she adored and I considered her a second mother. And then, I celebrate her one more time on June 27, her birthday, which is seriously happy occasion, of course.

I just love to celebrate Miss Lucille—and celebrate with her!

Those who know her poetry know that I’m referencing one of her two most famous poems when I say “celebrate.” Here’s a link for those of you who don’t know that poem. Read it and–I hope–become deeper in your soul. There’s audio, too! 

And here some other great Miss Lucille extras:

A biography of her on the Poetry Foundation website.

“Homage to my hips”, her other most famous poem. All sisters with glorious, big booties need to read this poem at least once a year.

Here’s a podcast I did almost two years ago with a circle of Black women to celebrate Miss Lucille’s birthday. This is a special podcast, including Miss Lucille’s firstborn child, Sidney, and National Book Award winner Nikki Finney. (When you click the link, go to “Episode 8” to begin listening!)

And here’s a wonderful video of Miss Lucille and Quincy Troupe, one of the great poets of the Black Arts Movement, and just a Down By Law Cool Brother as well.


Lucille Clifton with Quincy Troupe, Conversation, 21 May 1996 from Lannan Foundation on Vimeo.

.Enjoy! And celebrate. Miss Lucille is up in Heaven poeming with the ancestors and having a good old time with her husband, Mr. Fred, and two of her children who passed before her.

And she’s eating hot dogs, which she absolutely loved. And I just know she is looking very cute in a really colorful blouse, because she sure could wear an outfit. I miss her so much, still, but I hope if I’m good down here, I’ll be able to join her one day in Heaven. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, for real.


7 thoughts on “Lucille Clifton: Spell/Woman/Poet

  1. One year, around mother’s day, I was in prison and hand printed like a dozen copies of “celebrate” to send to my mother, my aunts and just folks I knew. Of all the poet’s I’ve met, the people who inspired me to write and all that – Lucille Clifton is the only woman I’ve cried after meeting.

  2. My daughter introduced me to the poetry of Ms. Clifton several years ago and I just fell in love with her. When she left us I paid homage to her gift and life and when I went on my hiatus–I featured one of her poems; ‘There is a Girl Inside.’ I could relate to the latter for chronologically I was embarking on my 6th decade with the spirit of a much younger woman. Ms. Lucille and I were of the same mindset.

    Your tribute brings tears to my eyes and thanks for the video of the interview. I noticed that there are a few of her readings on YouTube.

  3. Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. “Homage to My Hips” got me through my college years of not truly loving my body and its curves. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing.

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