Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
Articles on writer-in-residence Lucille Clifton and coordinator of the program, Sister Nancy Hynes
Lucille Clifton with Kendra Cass '96 at dinner in 1994
Lucille Clifton signing copies of her books following one of her talks in 1994
Lucille Clifton Article.jpg

Dublin Core


Lucille Clifton


Clifton, Lucille, 1936-2010


The Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writing Fellows Program funded Lucille Clifton’s residency at CSB/SJU in February and March 1994. A battle with breast cancer caused postponement of a planned return in Fall 1994, but she was able to visit campus October 29 through November 4, 1995. During her 1994 visit, she focused on women’s challenges in American culture. While Clifton was on campus, she gave four public readings, visited five elementary schools, two high schools, went to six CSB/SJU English courses, and did four large group discussions with honors classes. She also held two poetry workshops, which consisted of two sessions each to work on students’ poetry. S. Nancy Hynes was the coordinator of Clifton’s residency. Clifton integrated herself in the campus. She talked with students, staff, and the Sisters when her schedule allowed. At Clifton’s February 23rd poetry reading in the BAC, she was joined by the Nouage Dance Company. The company was made up of deaf dancers who choreographed pieces to Clifton’s poetry. Clifton was also one of the five speakers at a Speak-Out on February 24. The title of the Speak-Out was “Defining Ourselves as Women.” The panelists talked about race, sexual orientation, body image, age, and other issues pertaining to women. When Clifton returned in 1995, she reunited with students who she met originally during her 1993-1994 visit.

Clifton authored over ten poetry books and 20 children’s books. She also co-authored TV programs such as Free to be You and Me, and Vegetable Soup. Her writing focused on women, race, family, spirituality, and her own body. No topic that applied to her life was off-limits. She was the runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 and 1988. She won a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She also won the University of Massachusetts Press’ Juniper Prize in Poetry. She won an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She taught at Columbia in New York and at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. She was also a Poet Laureate of Maryland for ten years. She won a full scholarship to Howard University but was not able to finish. She never graduated from college or took a creative writing class. She did have seven honorary college degrees. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 anthologies, magazines, and journals. Clifton used a typewriter to write her stories and poetry, completely starting over if she made a mistake. She wrote how people talk, ignoring grammar rules, and equivocated her poetry to music. According to Clifton, poetry is a thing of its own and is presented through the medium of a poet. Clifton thought it was important to read poetry to young children, because they must first love poetry before they start to analyze it. Clifton credited her mother for her love of poetry as her mother read poetry to her a lot.


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Archives




In copyright


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University , “Lucille Clifton,” College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Libraries, accessed October 2, 2022,