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the terrible stories (American Poets Continuum)

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1880238370
ISBN-10: 1880238373
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a long career, Clifton has earned that rare combination of critical acclaim (including two Pulitzer Prize nominations) and a wide popular audience. Heir to Langston Hughes's deceptively ordinary voice, Clifton crafts brief lines and accessible metaphors into a profound and often humorous commentary on the rich survival skills of women, family love and contemporary American?particularly African American?life. Her cogent 10th collection charts a treacherous terrain of personal and historic tragedy. She confronts breast cancer with an impressive delicacy, as in "scar": "I will call you/ ribbon of hunger/ and desire/ empty pocket flap/ edge of before and after.// and you/ what will you call me?" A poetic sequence called "A Term in Memphis" penetrates Southern history, allowing the revelations of honest anger to operate as antidote?not comfort?for bigotry. Often drawn to religious themes, Clifton ambitiously explores contradictions of the Bible's King David, a poet and a soldier who "stands in the tents of history/ bloody skull in one hand, harp in the other...." With her sustaining ability to spin pain into beauty, Clifton redeems the human spirit from its dark moments. She is among our most trustworthy and gifted poets.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A 1996 National Book Award nominee for The Terrible Stories, African American poet Clifton writes with "the passion of a born survivor" (The Book of Light,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Poets Continuum (Book 38)
  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd. (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880238373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880238370
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,044,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on September 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Terrible Stories," by Lucille Clifton, is a collection of poems that are written in a clear, straightforward style. The themes that strike me as most present in the collection are loss, loneliness, and the burdens of history. The poems within the book are grouped into a number of sequences.
There is a sequence of poems about an encounter with a fox; for me this sequence brings to mind larger issues of human-animal relations. I found the most powerful sequence to be about breast cancer. In the first poem in that sequence, Clifton evokes "audre" (i.e. Audre Lorde, another poet who has written eloquently on breast cancer). Also very moving is "lumpectomy eve," which captures the tenderness of "one breast / comforting the other."
Some poems explore the connection between African-Americans and Africa (these specific poems are "hag riding," "shadows," and "memphis"). Some poems are more overtly political or sociological. "the son of medgar," for example, deals with the trial of the assassin of Medgar Evers. "lorena" is a surprisingly gentle poem which evokes the story of a real-life woman who sexually mutilated her husband.
The final sequence in the book, "From the Book of David," draws from the biblical narratives of King David. These poems explore the violence of David's life, and seem to be asking how we can reconcile David the warrior with David the poet.
Clifton writes with a quiet power in this collection. I recommend this book to all those interested in poetry, African-American studies, and/or women's studies.
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Format: Paperback
Clifton writes with great intensity about personal experiences in her poetry. This is a small collection that is powerful and the individual poems stay with you long after you've closed the bok.
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