Voices by Lucille Clifton
(American Poets Continuum)

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Synopsis

In 2007, Lucille Clifton became the first African American woman to win the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious American poetry awards and one of the largest literary honors for work in the English language. Clifton has also won the National Book Award in poetry for Blessing the Boats (BOA Editions, 2000), and is the only author ever to have two collections, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (BOA Editions, 1987) and Next: New Poems (BOA Editions, 1987), named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in one year.

In Voices, Clifton continues her celebrated aesthetic of writing poems for the disempowered and the underprivileged while finding humor and redemption among life’s many hardships. This book also highlights Clifton’s ability to write inventive dramatic monologues. Voices includes monologues spoken by animals, as well as by the food product spokespeople Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and the apparently nameless guy on the Cream of Wheat box.

“cream of wheat”

sometimes at night
we stroll the market aisles
ben and jemima and me they
walk in front humming this and that
i lag behind
trying to remove my chef’s cap
wondering what ever pictured me
then left me personless
rastus
i read in an old paper that i was called rastus
but no mother ever
gave that to her son
toward dawn we head back
to our shelves
our boxes ben and jemima and me
we pose and smile i simmer
to myself what is my name

BOA Editions is thrilled to present the newest poetry collection by the one and only Lucille Clifton.

 

About Lucille Clifton

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Lucille Clifton: Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936. Her first book of poems, Good Times, was rated one of the best books of the year by the New York Times in 1969. Clifton remained employed in state and federal government positions until 1971, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News About the Earth (1972) and An Ordinary Woman (1974). She went on to write several other collections of poetry, including Voices (BOA Editions, 2008); Mercy (2004); Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 (2000), which won the National Book Award; The Terrible Stories (1995), which was nominated for the National Book Award; The Book of Light (1993); Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (1991); Next: New Poems (1987) Her collection Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 (1987) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; Two-Headed Woman (1980), also a Pulitzer Prize nominee, was the recipient of the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize. She has also written Generations: A Memoir (1976) and more than sixteen books for children, written expressly for an African-American audience. Lucille Clifton's honors include an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Lannan Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shelley Memorial Award, the YM-YWHA Poetry Center Discovery Award, and the 2007 Ruth Lilly Prize. In 1999, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College of Maryland. After a long battle with cancer, Lucille Clifton died on February 13, 2010, at the age of 73. Toni Morrison: Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved. Kevin Young: Kevin Young is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebellion, out from Knopf in January 2011. His Jelly Roll: A Blues, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. He is the editor of five volumes, including 2010's The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing; his book The Grey Album: Music, Shadows, Lies won the 2010 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and is forthcoming in 2012. He is the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and Curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta. Michael S. Glaser: Michael Glaser served as Poet Laureate of Maryland, from August 2004 through August 2009. He graduated from Denison University with a B.A. and from Kent State University with a M.A. and Ph.D. He began teaching at St. Mary's College of Maryland in 1970, retired and became a Professor Emeritus in 2008. He has published six collections of poetry and edited two anthologies. Dr. Glaser was Lucille Clifton's longtime friend and assistant.
 
Published November 1, 2008 by BOA Editions Ltd.. 72 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Voices

Publishers Weekly

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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.

Nov 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Voices (American Poets Contin...

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