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Lucille Clifton and Natalie Diaz

  • Urbana free library- downstairs conference room 210 S Race St Urbana, IL, 61801 United States (map)

This week we will discuss the poetry of Lucille Clifton and Natalie Diaz. If you have time please google some of their poems and a bit of biography or check out some of their books. What does their poetry have in common? How does it differ. How does gender, race and cultural background influence their work? What can we take from their work to use in ours. 

And as always, we will spend time writing, sharing, and discussing.

Remember when you bring in your own poetry (or that of a favorite writer) to discuss - please bring in 6-8 copies to share. 

hope to see everyone there

Here are a few examples

homage to my hips - Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips 
they need space to 
move around in. 
they don't fit into little 
petty places. these hips 
are free hips. 
they don't like to be held back. 
these hips have never been enslaved, 
they go where they want to go 
they do what they want to do. 
these hips are mighty hips. 
these hips are magic hips. 
i have known them 
to put a spell on a man and 
spin him like a top! 

Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation

by Natalie Diaz

Angels don’t come to the reservation.

Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.

Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing—

death. And death

eats angels, I guess, because I haven’t seen an angel

fly through this valley ever.

Gabriel? Never heard of him. Know a guy named Gabe though—

he came through here one powwow and stayed, typical

Indian. Sure he had wings,

jailbird that he was. He flies around in stolen cars. Wherever he stops,

kids grow like gourds from women’s bellies.

Like I said, no Indian I’ve ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel.

Maybe in a Christmas pageant or something—

Nazarene church holds one every December,

organized by Pastor John’s wife. It’s no wonder

Pastor John’s son is the angel—everyone knows angels are white.

Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.

Remember what happened last time

some white god came floating across the ocean?

Truth is, there may be angels, but if there are angels

up there, living on clouds or sitting on thrones across the sea wearing

velvet robes and golden rings, drinking whiskey from silver cups,

we’re better off if they stay rich and fat and ugly and

’xactly where they are—in their own distant heavens.

You better hope you never see angels on the rez. If you do, they’ll be marching you off to

Zion or Oklahoma, or some other hell they’ve mapped out for us. 

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me 
what i have shaped into 
a kind of life? i had no model. 
born in babylon 
both nonwhite and woman 
what did i see to be except myself? 
i made it up 
here on this bridge between 
starshine and clay, 
my one hand holding tight 
my other hand; come celebrate 
with me that everyday 
something has tried to kill me 
and has failed.

Earlier Event: September 30
The Long Poem