Episode 46

Lucille Clifton, spring song


April 13th, 2022

17 mins 35 secs

Season 4

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About this Episode

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) was one of the most powerful poets of the twentieth century. This joyful poem caps a sequence of sixteen poems called "some jesus," which walks through biblical characters (beginning with Adam and Eve) and ends on four poems for Holy Week and Easter. She wrote other poems on the Bible as well, including "john" and "my dream about the second coming," which reimagine a way into biblical characters to make their stories fresh.

Clifton wrote from the perspective of a Black woman and many of her most famous poems address race and gender. Clear-eyed about struggles and hardships, insistent in her calls for justice and equality, Clifton's poetry carries a consistent joy and hope, which is apparent (and abundant) in "spring song."

Clifton's poetry was known for its lean style, paring everything down to its essential elements. In addition to award-winning collections of poetry, Clifton also wrote sixteen books for children (and had six children herself).

For the text of "spring song," and for a recording of Lucille Clifton reading it, see The Poetry Foundation.

For more on Lucille Clifton see her biography at The Poetry Foundation.

For an introduction to Lucille Clifton, see the poem sampler "Lucille Clifton 101" by Benjamin Voigt.

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