“Things don’t fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept.”-Lucille Clifton
Poet Lucille Clifton died on February 13, 2010. Bill Moyers recalls the poet and her work. Clifton was featured in the Bill Moyers programs Power of the Word, The Language Of Life, Fooling With Words and Sounds Of Poetry.
BILL MOYERS: The long arc of morality that bends toward justice leads not only through the courthouse and the statehouse but out on the streets and in pages of poetry and prose. Luckily for the rest of us, there are writers who in words both beautiful and bold can express rage at injustice. But they don’t stop there, they help us experience sorrow and joy through an intimate knowledge of tempestuous human nature.
We lost one of those gifted people the other day — one of our most popular poets, my friend, Lucille Clifton.
Lucille Clifton’s poetry, legendary for its sparseness of word and punctuation, spoke unflinchingly of personal hardship, the history of oppression and the human condition. She was a standout in several programs we produced over the years on the wonders of poetry.
Lucille Clifton learned to love language as a child listening to poems written by her mother, a woman who never finished grade school.
Inheriting that love of language and the spirit of her mom, Lucille Clifton wrote poetry of her own for twenty years before she was actually published. But with her first collections of poems, she quickly gained recognition that just kept growing over time. Over a long and prolific career Clifton published more than 30 books that probed the indignations of slavery, celebrated the day-to-day events of life and community, and chronicled, with frank and poignant sensuality the frailties and pleasures of the human body.
Lucille Clifton was a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize — in the same year, 1988 —something that had never happened before.
In 2000, she received the National Book Award for Blessing The Boat: New And Selected Poems, and then in 2007, became the First African American woman to receive The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize – one of American poetry’s most prestigious poetry honors.
Lucille Clifton Was 73.