June is a prodigious month to celebrate Lucille Clifton’s life and work. Born on this day, June 27, in 1936, her singular poetry spans over fifty years. Clifton’s posthumous collection, How To Carry Water: Selected Poems Of Lucille Clifton, edited by Aracelis Girmay (BOA, 2020) releases in paperback this Fall 2021.
Lucille Clifton’s many accolades and awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Frost Medal, and an Emmy Award. BOA Editions published nine books by Lucille Clifton, including Quilting, Mercy, Voices, and the following extraordinary collections. Blessing The Boats won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2000. Next: New Poems and Good Woman were both finalists for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, making her the only author to have two collections selected in the same year. Her 1996 collection, The Terrible Stories, was a finalist for the National Book Award and The Collected Poems Of Lucille Clifton: 1965-2010 won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry.
Enjoy this compilation of featured poems, essays, interviews, reviews, and recognitions of Lucille Clifton’s legacy. Connect with this award-winning poet’s concise, powerful writing style which explores Black womanhood, family, the human condition, the body, the spirit, and more.
- “Poem: the times” on New York Times Magazine - A Lucille Clifton poem selected and introduced by Reginald Dwayne Betts.
- “Aracelis Girmay reads Lucille Clifton” on Poetry Society of America - Girmay reads Clifton’s poem “praise song.”
- “Twenty Ten Twenty-Five: 20 Poets, 10 poems, 25 years of National Poetry Month – ‘a dream of foxes’” on The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation - Poet Robin Coste Lewis chooses Lucille Clifton’s “a dream of foxes” from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON as “a classic work that has helped [her] make sense of what we are living through right now.”
- “Poetry Unbound: Lucille Clifton, ‘song at midnight’” on On Being - Pádraig Ó Tuama’s reflection on Lucille Clifton’s “song at midnight.”
- “[evening and my dead once husband]” on Poetry Daily - Lucille Clifton, “[evening and my dead once husband]” and HOW TO CARRY WATER: SELECTED POEMS, featured on Poetry Daily.
- “NPR’s Book Concierge: 2020” on NPR - HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON on NPR’s best books. “Clifton is simply a pillar of contemporary American poetry.” –Craig Morgan Teicher
- “Favorite Books of 2020” on Brain Pickings - Maria Popova chooses HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON as one of her 2020 favorites. Featuring video of Terrance Hayes reading Clifton’s “cutting greens.”
- “2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us” on Ms. Magazine - HOW TO CARRY WATER: SELECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON is an “obvious” choice for gender and women’s studies librarian, Karla Strand in celebrating National Poetry Month.
- “‘More than Me’: On How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton” on Los Angeles Review of Books - Dean Rader’s praise of HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS and Clifton’s conversation with American poetry past, present, and future.
- “2021 Poetry Month Reviews: April 1-7” on California Review of Books - David Starkey’s “very short review” of Lucille Clifton’s HOW TO CARRY WATER: SELECTED POEMS.
- “Questions of Poetic Legacy” on Washington Independent Review of Books - Rose Solari reviews Lucille Clifton’s HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS and Henry Taylor’s THIS TILTED WORLD IS WHERE I LIVE and considers the authors’ legacies.
- “Shara McCallum on ‘being property once myself’ by Lucille Clifton” on Poetry Society of America - Lucille Clifton’s “being property once myself” with compelling reflections on her poetry as Anthropocene literature from the elevated perspective of “the bond of live things everywhere,” allowing for the intersection of ecology and the history of race and racism—in contrast to the tradition of Pastoral poetry.
- “Go Back and Fetch It” on Poetry Foundation - Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ writes not a “regular review essay,” but “an ancestral tending, an offering to the altar of that powerful woman,” Lucille Clifton. She amplifies Sankofa poetics, affirming Clifton as a natural Sankofa poet.
- “Lucille Clifton Didn’t Just Write Poems. She Inhabited Them.” on Lit Hub - Tracie Morris’ attestation of the important, unique voice of Clifton’s work and a review of HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS.
- “The Spirit Writing of Lucille Clifton” on The Paris Review - Marina Magloire spotlights Lucille Clifton’s lesser-known spirit writing and how she first incorporated it into her poetry.
- “Lost Names, Andrea Brady, Vol, 43 No. 8” on London Review of Books - An aperçu of Lucille Clifton’s life and work, recognizing her latest collection, HOW TO CARRY WATER: SELECTED POEMS.
- “Q&A: Girmay Edits BOA Selections” on Poets & Writers - An interview with Aracelis Girmay, editor-at-large of the Blessing the Boats Selections, a series of poetry collections by women of color and a tribute to Lucille Clifton’s Blessing the Boats.
- “Connections: Discussing the life and legacy of poet Lucille Clifton” on WXXI News - A panel discussion of Lucille Clifton’s HOW TO CARRY WATER: THE SELECTED POEMS and her poetry’s connection to current events with hosts, Evan Dawson & Megan Mack and guests, Sidney Clifton, daughter of Lucille Clifton, Cornelius Eady, poet and co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation, Peter Conners, Publisher and Executive Director of BOA Editions, and Alison Meyers, Executive Director of Writers & Books.
- “Aracelis Girmay: How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton” on KRCW - Michael Silverblatt interviews Aracelis Girmay, editor of HOW TO CARRY WATER.
Lucille Clifton’s Legacy:
- “Blessing the Boats Selections” on BOA Editions - “Blessing the Boats Selections is named after Lucille Clifton’s National Book Award-winning collection, in honor and celebration of her enduring legacy.” Submissions to this prize are open to women of color poets in the U.S. through an open reading period.
- "A Legendary Poet's Home Becomes a Sanctuary for Young Artists" on The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation - A feature about the Clifton House, a new space for young artists created by the Clifton daughters in their childhood home in Baltimore.
- “Lucille Clifton: A Poet’s Life and Legacy” on BOA Editions - A mini-documentary of Lucille Clifton’s life and “her work [that] continues to shape the contemporary poetic landscape!”
Compiled by Jessica R. Semon, spring '21 intern at BOA and an English major at SUNY Brockport.