April 12, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blessing the Boats

Late last night, the local poetry community started spreading the sad news that poet Lucille Clifton died yesterday morning.

She was a resident of Howard County, Maryland, where I live. Clifton was beloved for her active support of local poets and literary groups.

Lucille Clifton's poetry had a raw honesty. When she spoke to an audience, you knew right away that the honesty of her poems equalled great personal bravery.

I was lucky enough to interview Clifton for a Baltimore Sun article about the 2002 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, where she was a featured poet.
She said, "Poetry speaks to something in us that so wants to be filled. It speaks to the great hunger of the soul and I define soul in a broad way.”

When I asked her about her popularity with Dodge attendees (Clifton appeared at every festival but the first, 1986), she said, "I do seem to have an audience that cares about me...I don’t quite know why. I’d like to think it’s because what I write about is about being human. . . I invite humans to join me there in that place where we are human.”

I am celebrating the life and work of Lucille Clifton with her poem,"Blessing the Boats."

blessing the boats

by Lucille Clifton

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss

the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.

Children's writers who follow this blog might  know that Lucille Clifton was also an author for children. In addition to her National Book Award and being a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for her poetry, Clifton's picture book, Everett Anderson's Goodbye is a Coretta Scott King award-winner. The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring is a favorite at our house.
May the tide that she is entering even now love her


Denée Barr Art News and More said...

True talent, inspiration, and gifts! The Boy who Didn't Believe in Spring was shared with my family too and I remember when she signed my copy of Blessing of the Boats and we had a great chat on that day. On several occasions I also heard Lucille Clifton speak at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Clifton knew how to capture and mesmorize an audience. She held us close. Her warmth, humor, and grit were undeniable. Blessings and Prayers.......

Author Amok said...

Definitely, she made even large gatherings feel like intimate conversations.