Quilting - The Feminist Dynamic of Lucille Clifton
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The Feminist Dynamic of Lucille Clifton
Quilting bees were occasions for women to gather bringing discarded scraps of material, which they masterfully transformed, into works of art. The bee was also a social gathering where women told tales, exchanged ideas, and encouraged one another. Lucille Clifton's collection of poetry entitled Quilting continues the wonderful tradition by skillfully bringing together poems that entertain, inform, and encourage. Two of Clifton's poems, "eve's version" and "a woman who loves," are excellent examples of the quilting process where material is re-worked to reveal a perspective that is female. The poem, "eve's version" defies the negative issues that have arisen from the Christian tradition of the fall of mankind. The present female condition is addressed in the poem, "a woman who loves." Women have been blatantly marginalized in our society and a reading of these Clifton works offers a description of how feminist power has been subverted to construct the inequality of power that is entrenched in our patriarchal culture.
The ancient Greeks attributed the power of love and procreation to women. The goddess Aphrodite exemplifies their knowledge of this fundamental power. Christian doctrine subverts female power by aligning Eve, the original woman, with the fall of man. The power that is life producing is tainted because it is suggested that Lucifer was able to control Eve by manipulating her power. The resulting Christian premise is that Eve must be protected because she is unable to resist the forces of evil. Eve's garden experience resulted in punishment subjecting her to the rule of her husband. It therefore becomes God's will that men should dominate women so that evil can be con...
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...a woman who loves" because Clifton has given her a pattern for success in her offering of "eve's version." She provides direction to those women who are locked behind windows and lack the vision necessary to see beyond the view that society has presented to them. The direction affords the possibility of telling their own story from their own unique point of view. Women are also given the responsibility for providing an honest allocation of power in today's richly diverse culture. Lucille Clifton 's quilting bee gathers the feminist dynamic that has been altered and dispersed and reworks it into a garment which makes this powerful force available to all women. These quilts can be displayed to tell the story or they can be used to offer warmth and security.
Clifton, Lucille. quilting poems 1987-1990. Rochester, New York: BOA Editions Ltd., 1991.