poetry,  social justice,  women

RIP: Lucille Clifton

One of my favorite poets died earlier this month. I often have my students read Lucille Clifton’s poems when we’re learning about using descriptive language in writing. Her poems are deceptively simple, usually lacking both punctuation and capitalization. Yet the simplicity of her poetry only adds to the punch of the ideas.

Clifton’s poetry is often woman-centric and carries within it the struggles of being both female and African-American. Her poems can be defiant, challenging, and funny. Here is one of my favorites, simply called “homage to my hips:”

these hips are big hips

they need space to

move around in.

they don’t fit into little

petty places. these hips

are free hips.

they don’t like to be held back.

these hips have never been enslaved,

they go where they want to go

they do what they want to do.

these hips are mighty hips.

these hips are magic hips.

i have known them

to put a spell on a man and

spin him like a top!

Lucille Clifton may have passed from this world, but her work will stay with us, growing on us, reminding us of what it means to be human.