Erotic Fridays: Lucile Clifton

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Here’s today’s sexy poet, Lucile Clifton

Lucille Clifton was born in 1937 in DePew, New York, and grew up in Buffalo. She studied at Howard University, before transferring to SUNY Fredonia, near her hometown. She was discovered as a poet by Langston Hughes (via friend Ishmael Reed, who shared her poems), and Hughes published Clifton’s poetry in his highly influential anthology, The Poetry of the Negro (1970). A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton’s work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on the African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.”

In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 (1987) and Next: New Poems (1987). Her collection Two-Headed Woman (1980) was also a Pulitzer nominee and won the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts. She served as the state of Maryland’s poet laureate from 1974 until 1985, and won the prestigious National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000. In addition to her numerous poetry collections, she wrote many children’s books. Clifton was a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her writing covered countless subjects in important ways, leading her poetry to be read by people with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests.

Clifton is noted for saying much with few words. In a Christian Century review of Clifton’s work, Peggy Rosenthal wrote, “The first thing that strikes us about Lucille Clifton’s poetry is what is missing: capitalization, punctuation, long and plentiful lines. We see poetry so pared down that its spaces take on substance, become a shaping presence as much as the words themselves.” In an American Poetry Review article about Clifton’s work, Robin Becker commented on Clifton’s lean style: “Clifton’s poetics of understatement—no capitalization, few strong stresses per line, many poems totaling fewer than twenty lines, the sharp rhetorical question—includes the essential only.” Poet Elizabeth Alexander praised Clifton’s ability to write “physically small poems with enormous and profound inner worlds” in the New Yorker.

Check out this poem below. It’s short, sweet, and straight to the point. Enjoy.

F. M. Laster

“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West

To a Dark Moses

by Lucille Clifton

you are the one
i am lit for.
Come with your rod
that twists
and is a serpent.
i am the bush.
i am burning
i am not consumed.

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