Sunday, February 14, 2010

If You Don't Know Lucille Clifton, You Should

Like the lady in the first video below--too bad we don't know who she is, because I like her laugh as well as her taste in poets--I fell in love with Lucille Clifton the first time I read her poetry. I forget was poem it was now, but like all her stuff it was spare, honest, accessible, and wondrous. It might have been this one, which I found saved on my computer.

the mississippi empties into the gulf

and the gulf enters the sea and so forth,
none of them emptying anything,
all of them carrying yesterday
forever on their white tipped backs,
all of them dragging forward tomorrow.
it is the great circulation
of the earth's body, like the blood
of the gods, this river in which the past
is always flowing. every water
is the same water coming round.
everyday someone is standing on the edge
of this river, staring into time,
whispering mistakenly:
only here. only now.

I find myself wondering again how she can produce some of the simplest looking but profoundly moving, truthful poems. I think I remember reading somewhere that she's a natural poet, not one who's been academically trained. Which, given the state of the art, is really a good recommendation for her.

Omigosh! I just went onto the Web to find out a little more about Clifton and I discover that she died of cancer yesterday.  Whoa! Is that not just so strange . . . ? What made me think about her just a few minutes ago? And decide to write a little blog entry about her? May she rest in peace. Apparently she was sick for a while.

This video is worth it . . . for the commentary as well as the three poems at the end.

And since we will have no more poems from her, perhaps this:

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