Category Archives: Clifton (Lucille)

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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Daniel’s Vision of Indestructible Kingship

The versions of the Prophet Daniel depicted by Richard Wilton and Lucille Clifton have a commonality despite their differences.

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Misusing Metaphor in the Abortion Debates

Both sides are misusing metaphor in the abortion debates. If we want a deeper vision of reality, we must turn to literature.

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Clifton, Abortion, & Respecting Women

Shock strategies by anti-abortionists may work on Congress but are less likely to work on women. As the body poems of Lucille Clifton demonstrate, women already know much more about their bodies than Congressmen do.

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Trump, Lucille Clifton, & Menstruation

Donald Trump assumed that Fox’s Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she aggressively asked him questions. Aside from his sexism, we should listen to Lucille Clifton, who points out how impressively women function even when they are having their periods.

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Detecting the Person behind the Poetry

What we find when we look for the person behind the literary work.

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The Making of a Literary Meal

A new anthology of “foodie lit” has recipes accompanying the poems, essays, and short stories.

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A Fatal Diagnosis, an Almost Ghost

A good friend has just been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, putting me in mind of a poem by Lucille Clifton when she learned of her husband’s lung cancer diagnosis.

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Murphy: Something Funny in Everything

Eddie Murphy, who as a young comedian helped save Saturday Night, returned for the show’s 40th celebration. A Lucille Clifton poem draws an interesting distinction between him and Richard Pryor.

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Clifton Brings Black History Alive

Lucille Clifton insists on the telling the historical truth, even if it makes whites uncomfortable.

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Against Race Oppression, Turn to Love

While some of Lucille Clifton’s race poems have an edge, in the end she always comes back to love.

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Grendel in Paris

As with other mass killings, “Beowulf” has lessons for the Paris massacre. Defoe and Rabelais, meanwhile, give us insight in the targeted satirical journal “Charlie Hebdo.”

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The Peace of Wild Things

My Intro to Literature class explored how a disconnect from nature leads to existential anguish while opening themselves up to nature provides spiritual nourishment.

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The Jordan River Continues to Inspire

The River Jordan, an inspiring image for American slaves, has worked it was into contemporary African American poems, including those of Lucille Clifton.

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Rituals of Commencement

Robert Creeley’s graduation poem captures both the predictability and the unpredictability of young people going forth into the world.

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For Sterling, Waves Came Crashing In

Collective player anger may have led to the NBA’s harsh punishment for Clippers owner Don Sterling. Lucille Clifton has a poem about the power of collective black action.

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the dance of Jesus music holds the air

These Lucille Clifton poems usher us from Lent into Easter.

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Looking Back to a Time When Hope Waved

Lucille Clifton’s poem on looks back to a time of hope–before the Kennedy assassination.

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