Lucille Clifton, whose real name was Thelma Lucille Sayles, was a poet and writer who wrote a lot. She is best known for writing about African-American heritage and women’s rights. From 1979 to 1985, she was the Poet Laureate of Maryland, and in 2007, she won the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Her style of writing was short, with free-style lyrics and few punctuation marks. She got ideas for her writing from the way her family and other African-Americans lived and the problems and challenges they faced. Her poems were mostly about celebrating the culture and history of African Americans. The New York Times said that her first book of poetry, called “Good Times,” was one of the best books of 1969. She then wrote a series of books for kids based on the life of a made-up boy named Everett Anderson, which were very popular. Her poetry and stories were about things like how people can love, how they can get over their weaknesses and the myth of the American dream. As the head of a large family, she often wrote about the good and bad parts of family life. Her poems also show how, as a woman, daughter, sibling, wife, mother, and, most importantly, a poet, she learned more about herself over time.
Early years and childhood
Samuel and Thelma Moore Sayles had Lucille Sayles Clifton in New York. Her father worked in a steel mill, and her mother did laundry and wrote poetry in her spare time. Even though they didn’t go to school much, her parents made sure that she and her siblings had access to a lot of books.
She went to Fosdick-Masten Park High School and got a scholarship to Howard University in 1953 to study drama. There, she met smart people like Sterling Brown, A.B. Spellman, and Fred Clifton.
She had to leave Howard because of bad grades in 1955 and then went to Fredonia State Teachers College (now the State University of New York at Fredonia).
Lucille Clifton’s Career
She worked as a claims clerk for the New York State Division of Employment from 1958 to 1960. From 1960 to 1971, she worked as a literature assistant for the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, DC.
She also began writing professionally in the 1960s. Her friend and fellow writer Ishmael Reed sent Langston Hughes some of her poems. Hughes included them in his book “Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1970.”
In 1969, she put out her first book of poems, called “Good Times,” which was about the happy times she had as a child. People who read the book liked it a lot.
In 1971, she was named poet-in-residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, a job she held until 1974.
In 1972, “Good News about the Earth,” her second book of poetry, came out. The poems reflected the social and political changes that took place in the late 1960s.
In her next book of poetry, “An Ordinary Woman,” which came out in 1974, she wrote about her life as a poet and a woman.
In addition to writing poetry, she wrote several books for children that also focused on the African-American experience and had themes like love, hope, and dignity. “Don’t You Remember?” is one of these books. (1973), “The Way Things Used to Be” (1974), and “Amerika” (1975). (1978).
She wrote a series of children’s books about a young black boy named Everett Anderson beginning in the 1970s. Each book in the series told the story of how Everett dealt with problems and challenges in real life.
From 1979 to 1985, she was the Poet Laureate of Maryland.
In 1985, she started teaching literature and creative writing at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she worked until 1989.
In her later works, she wrote a lot about the social and personal problems that women and black people in general face. In her 1993 book of poems, “The Book of Light,” she wrote about bigotry and intolerance. In “The Terrible Stories” (1996) and “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000,” she wrote about how women deal with illness and family problems (2000).
Works of note
Her first book of poetry, “Good Times,” which came out in 1969 and was a celebration of the African-American culture in which she grew up, was an instant hit. The New York Times said it was one of the 10 best books of the year.
Everett Anderson, a character in several of her books who is a young black boy, is one of her most well-known works.
She wrote eight books about Everett Anderson, and one of them, “Everett Anderson’s Goodbye,” won the Coretta Scott King Award (1984).
In 1988, her book “Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir,” which is a collection of all of her published poems, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
“Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000,” which came out in 2000, is thought to be one of her most moving works. Her views on racism, illness, gender, abortion, and death are shown in her poems. Many of the poems tell about her life after she beat cancer.
Awards & Achievements
In 1988, two of her poetry books, “Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969–1980” (1987) and “Next: New Poems” (1987), were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. This made her the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists in the same year.
In 2000, her book of poems, “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000,” won the National Book Award for Poetry.
In 2007, she won the important Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The prize is given to a living American poet whose “lifetime achievements deserve special recognition.”
Personal History and Legacies
She married philosophy professor Fred James Clifton in 1958, and they had six children. They were happy together until Fred died in 1984.
In her later years, she had a lot of health problems, including cancer. In February 2010, she died at the age of 73.
Estimated Net worth
Lucille is one of the wealthiest poets and is on the list of the most well-known poets. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Lucille Clifton has a net worth of about $3 million.
She was born with two extra fingers, but the doctors cut them off.
One of her ancestors was the first black woman in the state of Virginia to be legally hanged for manslaughter.