"Poetry ... if it's to be about being human, it ought to be the whole story" / Farai Chideya interviews Lucille Clifton

Listen to Lucille Clifton speak. Listen, even just for a minute. You'll feel her presence as you hear the distinctive timbre in her voice, and you'll understand why news of her death in 2010 elicited the following response from Elizabeth Alexander in The New Yorker: "The living pass out of one state into another, but passing is ongoing, not finite. Those we have loved are just over there, on the other side. In my sorrow I am speaking to her now, longing to hear her say, 'You did a good job, baby.' As the old saying goes, every shut-eye ain't sleep, every goodbye ain't gone."

Poet Lucille Clifton Recalls a Life of Well-Chosen Words
Source: NPR.org

African American poet Lucille Clifton's first book of poems, Good Times was cited by the New York Times as one of 1969's ten best books, and she recently became the first black woman to win the prestigious Lilly Poetry Prize, which rewards lifetime achievement. Clifton talks to Farai Chideya about her life, legacy and plainspoken way with words, including "wishes for sons":

wishes for sons

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.


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