Lucille Clifton

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Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936. Her first book of poems, Good Times (Random House, 1969), was rated one of the best books of the year by the New York Times. Clifton remained employed in state and federal government positions until 1971, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News About the Earth (Random House, 1972) and An Ordinary Woman (Random House, 1974). She was the author of several other collections of poetry, including Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, 2000), which won the National Book Award; Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 (BOA Editions, 1987), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; and Two-Headed Woman (University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), also a Pulitzer Prize nominee as well as the recipient of the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize. Clifton was also the author of Generations: A Memoir (Random House, 1976) and more than sixteen books for children, written expressly for an African-American audience. Her honors include an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Lannan Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shelley Memorial Award, the YM-YWHA Poetry Center Discovery Award, and the 2007 Ruth Lilly Prize. In 1999, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland from 1979 to 1985, and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Source

blessing the boats

(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 may you 

open your eyes to water 

water waving forever 

and may you in your innocence 

sail through this to that.

Published:

2001

Length:

Shorty

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

2022

Themes:

Faith & Hope

Literary Devices:

Alliteration

the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession

Anaphora

a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences

Caesura

a break between words within a metrical foot

Enjambment

a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem

Personification

the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing