Tag: Lucille Clifton

Happy birthday, Lucille!

Lucille’s mother was a gifted poet with only an elementary school education. Her poetry was offered publication but Lucille’s father wouldn’t allow it and forced her to burn the poems in the fireplace. It’s said Lucille never forgot it and I’m sure it shaped much of her own poetry. About the incident, she wrote a poem called “fury”:
“her hand is crying. / her hand is clutching / a sheaf of papers. / poems. / she gives them up. / they burn / jewels into jewels.”

She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for two separate books in the same year: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987), and Next: New Poems (1987). She won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats (2000); the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 2010, just before her death.

When I discovered Lucille’s work I felt energized. Her messages of empowerment and self-love are lessons every one of us should take to heart and put into practice. How great it must have been to hear her read in person. 

Photo via The New Yorker


NaPoWriMo 29/30: Thyme in My Pocket

Thyme in my Pocket
(After Lucille Clifton)

I tucked a sprig of thyme in my pocket
for courage, thinking about how it grows
in the mountains between rocks in poor
soil. I was climbing my own mountain,
feet buried in poor soil to my knees.
The Romans burned thyme as incense
and bathed in its fragrant waters before battle.
I rubbed the sprig between my fingers,
absorbing its oil to assist me in battle
for a new life.

Prompt via napowrimo.net: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.”

I chose Lucille Clifton’s “There is a Girl Inside” which is easily my favorite poem. 

Image via.

R.I.P. Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton

One of my favorite poets, Lucille Clifton, has died. I only recently discovered her work but it was love at first sight – I still can’t get enough. She wrote about everyday women in words that really make us realize just how extraordinary and connected we are in this world. She celebrated womens’ bodies and the wisdom and sexuality that comes with age and she wasn’t afraid to let her voice be heard in a world of cookie-cutter Barbie dolls. Her voice will be missed but thank God we have her words in print and audio forever. Click here to listen to Lucille read her poem Won’t You Celebrate With Me.

This is the first poem I ever read of Lucille’s and it’s still my favorite.

    There Is A Girl Inside

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

she is a green tree
in a forest of kindling.
she is a green girl
in a used poet.

she has waited
patient as a nun
for the second coming,
when she can break through gray hairs
into blossom

and her lovers will harvest
honey and thyme
and the woods will be wild
with the damn wonder of it.