Bruce Frankel

Author of the new book "What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life."

Farewell to Poet Lucille Clifton, 73, Her Voice and Hips

February 20, 2010

Lucille Clifton had one of those voices that rises from somewhere deeper than throat or chest, stomach or hips. Body and voice were one. And no, like her hips, Clifton, a National Book Award winner who died on Feb. 14, at 73, did not “fit into little/ petty places.”

Nor did her words, which she spoke directly to the listener, inflected with the blues and a head-wagging humor that forgives everything and nothing. Each drop of language revealed layers of personal, familial, and racial history. But as it did, it transcended the experience with vision. She transformed her immediate life into mythologies that, in turn, reverberated like depth charges with delayed truths of deeper places.

Before you read her obituary in The New York Times, listen to her read her “homage to my hips” via,, or watch her at the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival.

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