A self-taught poet born in Depew, New York to working class parents, Lucille Clifton began writing at an early age. She cultivated her spare and powerful verse while attending Fredonia State Teachers College in the mid-1950s. Clifton has often used her minimalist style to address traditional themes: family, relationships, and strength through adversity. Writer Helen Houston once observed that Clifton's poetry brings to light the qualities that keep us alive as well as "the belief that we have the ability to make things better." Clifton's talent was recognized early in her career. Her first volume of poems, Good Times, was heralded by the New York Times as one of the best books of 1969. Clifton served as the state of Maryland's Poet Laureate from 1974 until 1985, and has received numerous awards, including the National Book Award in 1999. Clifton passed away on February 13, 2010, at the age of 73.
To read this and other poems by Lucille Clifton, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.