Lucille Clifton’s experiences as an African-American living in a town inhabited by mostly Caucasians affected her decisions and goals in life. Growing up in a world filled with racism and gender discrimination, Clifton challenged and overcame stereotypes about both blacks and women. Despite her early struggles, Clifton writes about her problems as she endeavors living to the fullest extent. As a child, Clifton remained thankful for her parents “gifts of poetry and storytelling” (Lupton 18). These experiences as an African-American living in an impoverished environment along with a lasting love for her community and family helped Clifton grow as a person and poet. Therefore, she gained popularity for portraying African-American youth and family life in her works. Overcoming all of her struggles was most likely the hardest thing to accomplish, and reflecting on them through poetry came naturally.
As her lifestyle improved, Clifton’s works and opportunities increased, allowing her to complete her education at various schools and become a published author. Lucille Clifton has stated on many occasions that she believes a poet’s job requires telling the truth about the world and about life (Lupton 2). Therefore, her poems were “generally short and precise,” using “simple, easy-to-understand language” to transcend literal meaning though powerful images (Champion 76). Most of her famous poems rooted from her experience as an African-American women raised in poverty. Critics acknowledge Clifton’s “ability to craft powerful, evocative images that express pride in her identity as a black woman” (Milne 113). However, although she had a love for music and the arts, it never occurred to Clifton that she would pursue a career in poe...
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...of Clifton’s signature poetic traits requires the solitary application of lowercase letters, which shows in her three poems “Good Times,” “My Mama Moved Among the Days,” and “Climbing.”
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Lupton, Mary Jane. Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters. Westport: Praeger Publishers,
Milne, Ira Mark, ed. “Climbing: Lucille Clifton.” Poetry for Students. Volume 14.
Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007. Print.
Thuers, Naomi. “Lucille Clifton” in Truthtellers of the Times. Mullaney, Janet Palmer, ed.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. 12-14. Print.