Lucille Clifton (1936-) last May won the Poetry Foundation’s 2007 $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. "Lucille Clifton is a powerful presence and voice in American poetry. Her poems are at once outraged and tender, small and explosive, sassy and devout. She sounds like no one else, and her achievement looks larger with each passing year" — Christian Winman, chair of the selection committee. Well said.
the river between us
in the river that your father fished
my father was baptized. it was
their hunger that defined them,
one, a man who knew he could
feed himself if it all came down,
the other a man who knew he needed help.
this is about more than color. it is
about how we learn to see ourselves.
it is about geography and memory.
it is about being poor people
in america. it is about my father
and yours and you and me and
the river that is between us.
Further Reading: Lucille Clifton, Mercy: Poems (2004), and Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000,both in our library.
Coming in October: William Wordsworth