Category Archives: Clifton (Lucille)

June Love, Simple and Entire

For a June poem, here’s Richard Wilbur reminiscing about young love.

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Trump, Clifton, & Immigrants as Animals

Trump describing immigrants as animals is scary stuff, as this Lucille Clifton poem makes clear.

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Light Breaks Where No Light Was Before

Lucille Clifton’s Lucifer poems are more pentecostal than diabolic.

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Sending Students Out into the World

On Saturday at our commencement ceremony, I read C. P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka.” It was a great selection for a number of reasons.

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Inspired by MLK and Lucille Clifton

To honor Martin Luther King, I share a hard-hitting but hopeful Lucille Clifton essay by a first-year African-American student who is fulfilling his dream.

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Trouble Recovering My French

Lines from Lucille Clifton’s “i am accused of tending to the past,” wrenched out of context, describe by experience with French at the moment

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we have always loved each other

Ushering in Black History Month with a lovely Lucille Clifton poem about the need to keep believing in oneself.

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A Herculean Task: Purging Old Files

I’ve spent the last couple of days going through my father’s files (and throwing most of them away). I feel like Heracles cleaning out the Augean stables, as described by Seamus Heaney.

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Black Women as Saviors? Clifton Objects

Some are sanctifying black women voters for saving America from itself after Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama. Lucille Clifton points out that sanctification isn’t much better than demonization.

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Three Poems for Surviving Trump

Hope is needed in the face to emotional exhaustion over Trumpism. Here are three poems about finding hope in dark times.

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Lucille Clifton’s Cancer Poems

In her 1980s cancer poems, Lucille Clifton captures a range of feelings, ranging from confusion to anger to acceptance.

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Women Who Refuse To Be Broken

There are certain poets who appear indomitable and, in their confident affirmations of life, inspire the rest of us. Lucille Clifton was one of these poets.

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Clifton Poems Make Connection Possible

In a recent event honoring the memory of Lucille Clifton, poet Toi Derricotte read a poem about how Clifton’s poetry opened up a relationship with the mother of a sick child. Here I share Derricotte’s poem as well as the poems she read to the mother and examine why they had the effect they did.

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We Benefit When We Check Our Privilege

Do be blind to one’s privileges is to live in a world of shadows and phantoms, as Ralph Ellison and Lucille Clifton both make clear. Life if much richer if we identify our blindnesses and engage with people as three-dimensional beings.

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Massacring the Environment Dakota Style

With a North Dakota winter bearing down on those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, I see a convergence of images that also show up in Lucille Clifton’s poem “the killing of the trees”: environmental degradation, oppression of Native Americans, and frozen bodies.

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John the Baptist: his mouth be true as time

In Lucille Clifton’s version of John the Baptist, he is a black minister preaching the social gospel.

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On 9/11, Firemen Ascended Jacob’s Ladder

Lucille Clifton’s seven 9/11 poems, written in the days following the attacks, use religious imagery to find hope.

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Welcome Class of 2020 (and Others)

A letter to incoming college students, with a tip of the hat to Montaigne, Williams Wordsworth, and Lucille Clifton.

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Our Stoned Girls and Boys

As America undergoes a major opioid epidemic, it is worth looking back at two Lucille Clifton poems about how drugs were blighting the lives of young black men and women in the early 1990s.

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On Walls: A Letter to the Incoming Class

Talk about walls and keep people out of America is beginning to seep down to high schools and colleges. It is therefore important that students understand how walls operate. Daniel Defoe and Lucille Clifton has some useful insights into how walls both make us safe and entrap us.

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Homer’s Warning about Revenge Killings

What will it take to bring peace between police and black communities? Homer has a vision of such a truce at the end of “The Odyssey” but it may not be realistic.

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Harriet Tubman Didn’t Take No Stuff

In honor of Harriet Tubman as the first woman and first African American to appear on U.S. currency, here are poems honoring her by Eloise Greenfield and Lucille Clifton.

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My New Granddaughter, Glorious Eden

I am a grandfather again. My latest granddaughter, Eden Rhys Wilson-Bates, brings to mind “Paradise Lost” and Lucille Clifton’s Garden of Eden poems.

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Robinson Ran Against Walls, Never Broke

A Ken Burns documentary on Jackie Robinson gives me an excuse to run this short, powerful Lucille Clifton poem honoring the player who broke baseball’s color line.

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Lit for Handling a College’s Race Problems

After a series of arson fires and racist incidents, I turned to works in each of my courses to address the situation. In Intro to Lit, Lucille Clifton’s poetry; in Early British Literature survey, Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko”; in British Fantasy, “Perdido Street Station.”

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Our Children Will Reproach Us

If we fail to take adequate measures to stave off catastrophic climate change, our children and grandchildren will see sea levels rise by three meters by the century’s end. Lucille Clifton has a poem that describes how they would regard us.

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Clifton & America’s Eviction Epidemic

The United States at the moment is going through an eviction epidemic–which brings to mind a powerfully simple Lucille Clifton poem about an evicted family.

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Lucille Clifton’s Song of Myself

Lucille Clifton’s Whitmanesque “won’t you come celebrate with me” will inspire anyone who has gone through hard times.

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Black Students Find Strength thru Clifton

Our college last night held a celebration of the poetry of Lucille Clifton, who taught for 16 years here. A particularly powerful moment occurred when two African American students read Clifton poems and explained how they drew strength from them.

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Clifton, Ellison Help Explain Whitesplaining

White politicians, if they want the Black vote, must be cautious about “whitesplaining.” Lucille Clifton gives us insight into the insensitivity in “note to self.” Brother Jack in “Invisible Man” is racially insensitive in this way and may have lessons for certain Bernie Sanders supporters.

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God’s Patience Is His Promise

This simple Lucille Clifton poem expresses a quiet confidence in God’s love.

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