Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

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Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 - February 13, 2010) wrote 14 books of poetry and more than 16 children’s books. The New York Times rated her first book of poetry, Good Times, one of the best books of 1969. Clifton attended Howard University for two years, beginning in 1952. She served in state and federal government positions until she became a Writer in Residence at Coppin State College in 1971. Her book Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 (2000) won the National Book Award, and her book The Terrible Stories (1996) was nominated for the National Book Award. Clifton wrote two books that were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987) and Next: New Poems (1988). Two-Headed Woman (1980) won the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize. She also won an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Lannan Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shelley Memorial Award, the YM-YWHA Poetry Center Discovery Award, and the 2007 Ruth Lilly Prize.

Clifton was chosen to serve as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999, and was the Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland as well as Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her poetry was seen as refreshingly simplistic. Her fourteenth book of poems, published posthumously, is Collected Poems, edited by Michael Glaser and Kevin Young (Boa Editions, 2012). Beltway Poetry Quarterly:

written by Word Works intern Monica Root, September 2013, edited by Kim Roberts, December 2013

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