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National Poetry Month Spotlight: Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton is an American poet who significantly impacted the literary world during her

lifetime. Born in Depew, New York, in 1936, Clifton's family moved to Buffalo, where she grew up. She attended Howard University and later moved to Baltimore, MD. Clifton began her career as a writer in 1969, publishing her first book of poetry, "Good Times."


Clifton's career spanned over five decades, during which she published 13 collections of poetry, two memoirs, and several children's books. Her writing is known for its powerful identity, family, and social justice themes. Its simplicity and clarity characterize it, and she often utilizes short lines and simple language to convey complex emotions and ideas.


One of her significant accomplishments was being named the Poet Laureate of Maryland in 1979 and the United States in 1999. She was the first Black woman to hold both of these positions. Additionally, Clifton was awarded numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including the National Book Award for her collection of poems, "Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000." The collection features poems touching on topics such as family, spirituality, and African American history. Her other notable works include "Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980," "Quilting: Poems 1987-1990," and "The Book of Light."

Beyond her poetry, Clifton was also a professor and mentor to many young writers. She taught at several universities throughout her career, including Coppin State College in Baltimore, where she was a distinguished professor of humanities. Her impact on the literary world and her contributions to Black and feminist literature is immeasurable.


Clifton passed away in 2010, but her legacy continues to influence and inspire poets and readers today. In honor of National Poetry Month, we can celebrate Clifton's contributions to American literature and take time to appreciate the power of poetry to connect us to each other and the world around us.

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