Thursday, August 16, 2012

Notes from The Book of Light

Exciting news!  The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton is coming out this fall. Ever since I discovered her work in the early 1990s, Clifton has been a major deity in my poetry pantheon. Denise Levertov said of Clifton's work:

"Poems after poem exhilarates and inspires awe at the manifestation of such artistic and spiritual power."

Even more than Levertov, Clifton could be so compact and succinct.  I don't know of another American poet who uses five and dime words--the vocabulary of the everyday--to build such palaces of language.


          was my first landscape
          red brown as the clay
          of her georgia.
          sweet attic of a woman,
          repository of old songs.
          there was such music in her;
          she would sit, shy as a wren
          humming alone and lonely
          amid broken promises,
          amid the sweet broken bodies
          of birds.

You can see Lucille Clifton read her work here.


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