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In Honor of Lucille Clifton
February 13, 2017
Lucille Clifton died on this day back in 2010, the year I graduated from high school, and the year Clifton's Blessing the Boats came into my life. I have the date marked in my planner. So today, having returned inspired and exhausted from AWP in D.C., I'm thinking about Clifton—her poems, her stance on what poems can and should do, how important her work is to me. Doing so, I remember this interview from Sundress' Lyric Essentials blog feature last May.
In it, I talk about Clifton's poem "The Times," how it found me, why I carry it with me always, other poems that make me clutch my collarbone for dear life, and answer questions like "Is all poetry inherently political?" There's also a recording of me reading the poem, which I remember being really difficult to get right; I started out trying to read the poem off the page, but it sounded completely wrong until I stopped reading it and started reciting from memory. It fascinates me how a poem's sound and cadence changes once I've absorbed it off the page and into myself.
Feeling grateful for Lucille Clifton, the feeling of returning home, sunshine in Seattle, and all the poets dead and alive who remind me there is goodness and courage left in this world. Thanks to you all.