FROM THE EDITORS: This volume represents all the poems Lucille Clifton published in book form during her lifetime. It also includes groupings of previously uncollected poems placed in the book roughly when they were written: first, a small selection of “Early Poems” from the many Clifton wrote and kept but did not gather in her first full-length book, Good Times (1969); second, we have included a recently discovered typescript, Book of Days, that Clifton seems to have completed during 2006; and, finally, a grouping of “Last Poems & Drafts” that include late work and fragments, in various states of completion, found among her papers housed at Emory University. In all cases we have maintained the unique typography (and handwriting) found in her uncollected work.
PRAISE FOR THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LUCILLE CLIFTON 1965-2010
"The love readers feel for Lucille Clifton—both the woman and her poetry—is constant and deeply felt. The lines that surface most frequently in praise of her work and her person are moving declarations of racial pride, courage, steadfastness . . . The personal courage of the woman cannot be gainsaid, but it should not function as a substitute for [acknowledging Clifton’s] piercing insight and bracing intelligence. My general impression of the best of her work: seductive with the simplicity of an atom, which is to say highly complex, explosive."
—Toni Morrison, from the Foreword
"[The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010] may be the most important book of poetry to appear in years. Clifton was a major force in the last quarter of the 20th century, writing unparalleled poems about African American experience while also creating an inimitable but influential style that combined lyrical concision with smooth, vernacular speech. Clifton died in 2010, leaving an unfillable hole in the world of poetry, though this book, from BOA Editions, is a fitting monument."
"If you only read one poetry book in 2012, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 ought to be it."
"Clifton would hardly be the first writer the world needed time to get into proper focus. She died at 73 in 2010 and this book—collecting all her published poems and 69 previously unpublished—will go a long way toward sharpening the focus on her work so that she won't be among those who have to wait centuries for history to get it right. A great book to be sure."
—The Buffalo News
won't you celebrate with me
won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2012