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Lucille Clifton

April 28, 2010

I just found out that the poet Lucille Clifton died in February.  Lucille was an early influence and “mentor from afar” to me when I first began to write in earnest.  While I have grown to love many writers and books passionately, there is something about those writers that first light the way when you are starting out.  They remain with you no matter what.  While I haven’t cracked any of Clifton’s books in a few years, her books are like guardians on my bookshelves.

Her poems are like tiny giants to me.  She did so much with so little.  Asked why her poems were so short, and in lower case letters, she remarked that she was a mother and that’s all she had time for.  I have thought of that line so many times in the last couple of months.  Keep it short or do a lot with something small. I am already learning the value of economy as a mother and Clifton’s poems are good examples of this.

oh pray that what we want

is worth this running,

pray that what we’re runnning

toward

is what we want.

I pray this too, Lucille.  Thank you for your running.

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