Term Paper on Poetry Analysis Lucille Clifton

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Clifton has been likened to Gwendolyn Brooks, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson in her style. Her poems are spare in form, deceptively simple in language, complex in ideas, and reflective of the commonplace, the everyday.

Her first volume of poems was Good Times. She was inspired by her own family, especially her six young children, Clifton's early poems are celebrations of African American ancestry, heritage, and culture. Her early publications praise African Americans for their historic resistance to oppression and their survival of economic and political racism. Clifton's prose maintains a familial and cultural tradition of storytelling. The themes of her exceptional poems reflect both Clifton's ethnic pride and her womanist principles, and integrate her race and gender consciousness. Casting her persona as at once plain and extraordinary, Clifton challenges pejorative Western myths that define women and people of color as predatory and malevolent or vulnerable and impotent. Her poems attest to her political sagacity and her lyrical mysticism.

Her poetry reflects optimism, an emphasis on the qualities that has allowed people to survive, and the belief that people have the ability to make things better. It is peopled with strong characters and historical and biblical figures. Her female characters represent known and unknown heroes who have taken responsibility and stands, and reflect the strength of the Dahomey woman who was the founder of Clifton's family in America. Her black males are strong, healthy, and treated with love and respect. Poem sequences throughout her works espouse Clifton’s belief in divine grace by revising the characterization of such biblical figures as the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary, and in An Ordinary Woman she shows herself in conflict and consort with Kali, the Hindu goddess of war and creativity. Clifton is nonetheless witty and sanguine as she probes the impact of history on the present. She testifies to...
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