The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010

by Lucille Clifton
     
 

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Landmark volume containing all of Lucille Clifton's published work and 55 previously unpublished poems. Foreword by Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison.See more details below

Overview


Landmark volume containing all of Lucille Clifton's published work and 55 previously unpublished poems. Foreword by Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Clifton (1936�2010) was undeniably a major American poet; her poems, best known for their expressions of feminist ideals, African-American history and contemporary life, and intimate family life, cover a vast array of human experiences, as this surprisingly large complete volume attests. The average Clifton poem isn’t quite half a page long, and most of her books were slim indeed, so it is nothing short of astounding to find that she wrote quite this much. Luckily she did, for here is a formidable life’s work. From the earliest poems collected here, we see the familial merged seamlessly with the political, the general woven with the homespun, “certainty” sought and found in “the truth of potatoes/ steaming the panes and/ butter/ gold and predictable as/ heroes in history.” Some poems, like “after kent state” roil with anger and fierce identification—”white ways are/ the way of death/ come into the black/ and live”—while others, like “earth” take in an almost biblically panoramic view in just a few lines: “it bore varicolored/ flowers children bees/ all this used to be a/ place once all this/ was a nice place/ once.” Clifton was a master of minimalism and understatement, able to use techniques that would fail utterly in lesser poets’ hands—single-word lines, no punctuation or capital letters, the lowercase “i” as a pronoun—to startling effect, even when she’s just writing about the trials of being a poet, as in “after the reading” (“i throw myself into/ Howard Johnson’s bed/ and long for home,/ that sad mysterious country/ where nobody notices/ a word I say”), or about undergoing treatment for cancer, as in “lumpectomy eve”: “love calls you to this knife/ for love for love// all night it is the one breast/ comforting the other.” Elsewhere, Clifton could spin a timeless myth out of a few stark lines: “in the dream of foxes/ there is a field/ and a procession of women/ clean as good children.” All poetry readers will want to own this book; almost everything is in it. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“From the earliest poems collected here, we see the familial merged seamlessly with the political, the general woven with the homespun…All poetry readers will want to own this book; almost everything is in it.”—Publishers Weekly

“If there is any doubt that Lucille Clifton (1963-2010) was one of the powerfully original poetic voices of our time, this volume should dispel it. Poem after poem, book after book, that varied but ever vigorous voice sang fearlessly and gracefully… Clifton’s was a multifarious intelligence that could at times seem otherworldly; she inhabited and was attentive to both physical and spiritual plains; she spoke with the dead and the living with confidence. While her work could be contemporary and personal, she was often drawn to tell and retell ancient tales… She was an enlightened and enlightening poet, and this collection shines a welcome light on her work.” —Open Books: A Poem Emporium

A selection for Ms. Magazine's 2012 Best Books by Women, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 is a "welcome anthology, representative of more than 40 years of Clifton’s writing. If you’re not yet familiar with Clifton’s incredible mix of the familial and the political, this is one book you need right now.” —Ms. Magazine

"What is so valuable is that she goes directly and not without anger and confusion into these life-and-death matters, allowing the reader to empathize, and share, in her recognition that survival is a triumph. What is even more valuable is that she recognizes that the reader too survives … When Clifton writes such poems, she is among the very few true poets of our times.”—The Nation

Library Journal
"Who/ among us can imagine ourselves/ unimagined"? asks National Book Award winner Clifton, invoking "lost people" and "lost poems" that have fallen off the map into the mouths of dragons. The author of 18 children's books as well as this substantial body of poems, Clifton (who died in 2010) imagined for those who couldn't or wouldn't—the racist, the incestuous father, the victim, the tired, the poor, the overlooked, the dead, and her own buried self. Here are all the poems she published during her lifetime, in books and in journals, as well as some unpublished material from her archives at Emory University. Like many of these pieces, "Black Women" is an exercise in conceptual and linguistic contrast that makes startling use of the neologism: "America made us heroines/ not wives./ We hid our ladiness/ to save our lives." All the poems are filled with the people in Clifton's life. "When you poem this," says the speaker's sister, a well-read prostitute, "remember the book of Job." But to this dead sufferer she responds, "may heaven be filled/ with literate men/ may they bed you/ with respect." VERDICT For all collections, although some readers might prefer to begin with Blessing the Boats: New and Collected Poems, 1988�2000.—Ellen Kaufman, New York
The Washington Post
Clifton was a prolific, always interesting, sometimes fascinating poet, and her Collected Poems is a gift, not just for her fans—although they will surely appreciate having the previously uncollected work—but for all of us.
—Troy Jollimore

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934414903
Publisher:
BOA Editions, Ltd.
Publication date:
09/04/2012
Series:
American Poets Continuum
Pages:
720
Sales rank:
516,976
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.08(h) x 2.14(d)

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