Lucille Clifton Poems

Lucille Clifton was a widely read and respected American poet. Her work was promoted by Langston Hughes in The Poetry of the Negro. Her work often focuses on adversity and the experience of Black women in the United States. She won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007 and was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton

‘won’t you celebrate with me’ by Lucille Clifton addresses racism and inherent gender inequality. The speaker has overcome every hurdle and modeled herself in her own image.

This poem is considered a powerful and significant poem in Lucille Clifton's body of work, and many readers and literary critics appreciate its themes of determination, resilience, and celebration of the self in the face of adversity. The poem's use of spare language, free verse structure, and straightforward tone also makes it accessible to a wide range of readers.

won't you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

jasper texas 1998

by Lucille Clifton

‘jasper texas 1998’ by Lucille Clifton is a devastating poem that illustrates both the poet’s frustrated fury over and the dehumanizing barbarity of systemic racial violence against Black people in the United States.

This is an immensely impactful and moving example of Lucille Clifton's poetry, which often offers unabashed and unblinking glimpses into the cruel ways racism against Black Americans has manifested itself. The poem's incredibly visceral imagery and use of figurative language make it a brutally emotional experience for the reader, one that illustrates in stark terms the barbarism of racial violence.

i am a man's head hunched in the road.

i was chosen to speak by the members

of my body. the arm as it pulled away

pointed toward me, the hand opened once

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