Tuesday, April 3, 2018

C is for Lucille Clifton: Unapologetic

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.

My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 400 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.


Poetry sometimes has this image in people's minds, a rather ridiculous one with flowing clothing, impractically bare feet, and ethereal looking half-starved people nattering on about finding the universe in a flower. I think that's part of why people don't read it enough. They think it's silly or an intellectual exercise, not for "regular" people.

This is part of why I adore Lucille Clifton. Ms. Clifton gets to the point, tells you how it is, and challenges you to dare to disagree. She was a short, somewhat chubby African-American woman who took joy in her own body and life, who felt beautiful and strong and appreciated herself. That's amazing. She's grounded and direct, which makes her stand out from other poets.

She's so self-assured and unapologetic in her poetry, so proud of who she is and how she's made, so lacking in all the self-doubt and mincing about that can be so much a part of a woman's life. She's not afraid to take up space, to take credit for herself and her own worth. A powerful voice indeed.

Those ending lines are the kicker though. Come to think of it, it's often her ending lines that leave me grinning.
I have quite a few favorite poems by Ms. Clifton. But the first one I found was "Homage to My Hips." As a wide-hipped girl myself, I connected with the poem as I struggled to come to peace with my self-image. It's even better when you see Ms. Clifton herself reading it.

Lucille Clifton Reads 'homage to my hips from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

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