Friday, February 19, 2010

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

I've always admired Lucille Clifton's poetry. It has a music and a spareness, an observant, thoughtful and buoyant joy and seriousness with the world. The first poem of hers I ever read was "miss rosie" and when I thought of the I standing up, it reminded me not only of seeing those we would like to conveniently overlook, misplace, forget but of the importance of standing up for those who can't.

Her poem "roots" is one I taught in the schools for many years and which, in my own life, I've found worth remembering. I was grateful to be allowed to use it in my book Listener in the Snow. I knew she had been ill, that her health had not been the greatest for a while, but this is a real loss.

call it our craziness even,
call it anything:
it is the light thing in us
that will not let us die...

call it our roots,
it is the light in us
it is the light of us
it is the light, call it
whatever you have to,
call it anything.

-from "roots," Good Woma:n: Poems and a Meoir

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