From Publishers Weekly
National Book Award–winner Clifton has long enjoyed national acclaim for her careful, colloquial, compact renditions of African-American voices, in memoirs, books for children and more than a dozen books of poems. This relatively short new collection excels in its opening pages, with wry comic verse in the voices of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and a devout raccoon: oh Master Of All Who Take and Wash/ And Eat lift me away. Cliftons more serious poems, where she speaks as herself, address her late parents, her delights as a grandmother and her mixed feelings about memory and her own body as she begins her eighth decade. A visionary sequence of very brief lyric works, A Meditation on Ten Oxherding Pictures, winds the volume up: i am lucille who masters ox/ ox is the one lucille masters/ hands caution me again/ what can be herded/ is not ox. Where Cliftons earlier poetry sought strength in African-American oral traditions, these poems look even further back, to the origin of writing (where a sketch of an ox became an aleph, then an A). Clifton (Mercy
) retains an undeniable sincerity, an openness to her own emotions, and a rare warmth. (Nov.)
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About the Author
Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) was the 2007 recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, as well as the 2010 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. Her final poetry collection, Voices, was published by BOA in September 2008. She was an award-winning poet, fiction writer, and author of children's books. Her poetry book, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000, won the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry. Two of Clifton's BOA poetry collections, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980, and, Next: New Poems, were chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, the only author ever to have done so, while Clifton's, The Terrible Stories, was a finalist for the 1996 National Book Award. Clifton received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; the Shelley Memorial Prize; and the Charity Randall Citation. She served as a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College in Maryland. She was appointed a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and elected as Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1999.