hello sk fans,
lma on the rush here, trying to squeeze in a final post for national poetry month. as promised, i am featuring lucille clifton, a contemporary american poet whose work focused on her african-american heritage, the female body and the women’s experience.
lucille was born thelma lucille thayer in upstate ny, excelled in school and won a scholarship to howard university. she left howard amidst poor grades. perhaps it’s because no one ever told lucille about capital letters. whatever the cause, my pub can relate to her plight. lucille attended the local state university of new york (suny).
she continued writing and sharing her poetry, and became friends with poet ishmael reed, who introduced lucille to university of buffalo professor fred clifton, and her poetry to langston hughes. what a good friend ishmael turned out to be!
being an excellent poet is one thing, getting your excellent poems in the right hands is another. see, flunking out of school can lead to great things! we all should skip class.
lucille had both a wonderful marriage and a brilliant career as a writer. she wrote scores of poems and children’s books. she is also the first person to have two books of poems be nominated as finalists for the pulitzer prize in the same year!
again, shred that syllabus and get to that keg party. you can sleep in tomorrow. see what lies ahead for those who do!
lucille was the recipient of numerous awards, among them being named the poet laureate of maryland. besides being a stellar wordsmith, lucille was very classy and socially active. her poems are relatively short,free of capitalization, and speak volumes. writing, she said, was her way of hoping. she died of cancer in february 2010. we will share two of lucille’s poems here.
homage to my hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
i need to know their names
i need to know their names
those women i would have walked with
jauntily the way men go in groups
swinging their arms, and the ones
those sweating women whom i would have joined
after a hard game to chew the fat
what would we have called each other laughing
joking into our beer? where are my gangs,
my teams, my mislaid sisters?
all the women who could have known me,
where in the world are their names?
p.s. on the off-chance her mum actually reads sk, we should clarify that my pub never flunked out of school. she did, however, have one lively (and fun!) semester which prompted a letter from the dean strongly suggesting she stop by a classroom once in awhile. too bad she did not flunk out. sk could have a couple of pulitzers by now.