Thursday, March 11, 2010

Poet Laureate of Maryland Lucille Clifton 1936-2010 RIP

Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 – February 13, 2010[1]) was an American poet, writer, and educator from Buffalo, New York. [2] [3] [4] Common topics in her poetry include the celebration of her African American heritage, and feminist themes, with particular emphasis on the female body.


Lucille Clifton (born Thelma Lucille Sayles) was raised in Depew, New York. Her high school career was completed at Fosdick-Masten Park High School. She attended Howard University from 1953 to 1955 and graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia (near Buffalo) in 1955. In 1958 she married Fred James Clifton. She worked as a claims clerk in the New York State Division of Employment, Buffalo (1958–1960), and as literature assistant in the Office of Education in Washington, D.C. (1960–1971).

Her first poetry collection Good Times was published in 1969, and listed by The New York Times as one of the year's 10 best books. Her series of children's books about a young black boy began with 1970's Some of the Days of Everett Anderson. From 1971 to 1974 she was poet-in-residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore. From 1979 to 1985 she was Poet Laureate of the state of Maryland.[5] From 1982 to 1983 she was visiting writer at Columbia University School of the Arts and at George Washington University. From 1985 to 1989, Clifton was a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.[6] Since 1991, she has been Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College of Maryland. From 1995 to 1999, she was Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2006, she was a fellow at Dartmouth College. Clifton passed away on February 13, 2010. Studies about her life and writings include Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton (LSU Press, 2004) by Hilary Holladay and Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters (Praeger, 2006) by Mary Jane Lupton.


She received a Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970 and 1973, and a grant from the Academy of American Poets. She has received the Charity Randall prize, the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review, and an Emmy Award. Her children's book, Everett Anderson’s Good-bye, won the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award. In 1988, she became the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. For 1991/1992, she was awarded the Shelley Memorial Award. She received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 1996. Her volume, Blessing the Boats: New and Collected Poems 1988–2000 won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2000. From 1999 to 2005, she served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. In 2007, Clifton won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; the $100,000 prize honors a living U.S. poet whose "lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition."


Poetry collections

Good Times (Random House, New York, 1969)
Good News About the Earth (Random House, New York, 1972)
An Ordinary Woman (Random House, New York, 1974)
Two-Headed Woman (University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1980)
Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir: 1969–1980 (BOA Editions, Brockport, 1987)
Next: New Poems (BOA Editions, Ltd., Brockport, 1987)
Ten Oxherding Pictures (Moving Parts Press, Santa Cruz, 1988).
Quilting: Poems 1987–1990 (BOA Editions, Ltd., Brockport, 1991)
The Book of Light (Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, 1993)
The Terrible Stories (BOA Editions, Brockport, 1996)
Blessing The Boats: New and Collected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, Rochester, 2000)
Mercy (BOA Editions, Rochester, 2004)
Voices (BOA Editions, Rochester, 2008)


Generations: A Memoir (Random House, New York, 1976)


1.^ Rey, Jay (13 February 2010). "Clifton, honored poet from Buffalo, dies". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
2.^ Obituary New York Times, February 17, 2010.
3.^ Obituary Washington Post, February 21, 2010.
4.^ Obituary Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2010.
5.^ "Maryland Poets Laureate," webpage of Maryland State Archives, retrieved May 27, 2007.
6.^ Maryland State Archives and Maryland Commission for Women. "Lucille Clifton, Maryland Women's Hall of Fame," webpage from the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame retrieved May 28, 2007.

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