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Lucile Clifton: Reflections Of Triumph Essay

2206 words - 9 pages

Lucille Clifton’s experiences as an African-American living in a town inhabited by mostly Caucasians affected her decisions and goals in life. Growing up in a world filled with racism and gender discrimination, Clifton challenged and overcame stereotypes about both blacks and women. Despite her early struggles, Clifton writes about her problems as she endeavors living to the fullest extent. As a child, Clifton remained thankful for her parents “gifts of poetry and storytelling” (Lupton 18). These experiences as an African-American living in an impoverished environment along with a lasting love for her community and family helped Clifton grow as a person and poet. Therefore, she gained popularity for portraying African-American youth and family life in her works. Overcoming all of her struggles was most likely the hardest thing to accomplish, and reflecting on them through poetry came naturally.
As her lifestyle improved, Clifton’s works and opportunities increased, allowing her to complete her education at various schools and become a published author. Lucille Clifton has stated on many occasions that she believes a poet’s job requires telling the truth about the world and about life (Lupton 2). Therefore, her poems were “generally short and precise,” using “simple, easy-to-understand language” to transcend literal meaning though powerful images (Champion 76). Most of her famous poems rooted from her experience as an African-American women raised in poverty. Critics acknowledge Clifton’s “ability to craft powerful, evocative images that express pride in her identity as a black woman” (Milne 113). However, although she had a love for music and the arts, it never occurred to Clifton that she would pursue a career in poetry, but she found she could simply wrote about life experiences laced with fiction. Because of her emotional, racial, and physical difficulties throughout life, Lucille Clifton reflects on these struggles in her three poems “Good Times,” “My Mama Moved Among the Days,” and “Climbing.”
Personally experiencing the struggles and hardships expressed in her poetry, Clifton expresses her point of view and why others should not have to face similar hardships that she and her family experienced. In “Good Times,” Clifton compares why and how one point in time can seem better than another. Pointing out the “Good Times” when “everybody is drunk/and dancing in the kitchen” (10-11), Clifton refers to the not so good times when the rent remained unpaid and the electricity turned off, examining the differences and how each detail adds to the “good times” (7). By specifically mentioning in the beginning of the poem that her “daddy has paid the rent/and the insurance man is gone” (1-2) the reader acknowledges that those signify a few struggles that this family faces on a normal bases. Although these few struggles have recently been vanquished, the speaker does not yet mention that the good times occur now. Next, the speaker...

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