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Episode 17: Lucille Clifton

Episode Summary

Los Angeles Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson reads Lucille Clifton’s "telling our stories."

Participant(s) Bio

African-American poet Lucille Clifton is remembered as one of the most important literary voices of the 20th and early 21st centuries, whose economical verses centered on the African-American family and the experiences of black women in particular. Informed by her own African-American heritage and by her life as a mother to six children, Clifton's work treats wide-ranging subjects such as slavery and its legacy, family and community, oppression, the pain of illness, and the joys and indignities of the female body. The author of a dozen volumes of poetry, beginning with Good Times in 1969, and more than 20 books for children, Clifton was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times and was the first author to have two books chosen as finalists for the award during the same year, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 and Next: New Poems, nominated in 1988. In 2000 she won the prestigious National Book Award for her collection Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000, and in 2007 she was the winner of the Poetry Foundation's prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the first African-American woman to be so honored. The Poetry Foundation honored Clifton for her lifetime of contributions to American literature with its Robert Frost Medal, which was awarded posthumously in 2010.

Source: Gale Literature: Contemporary Black Biography