Lucille Clifton Poetry

Poetry is a compact language that expresses complex feelings. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose. It may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader’s or listener’s mind or ear; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical or incantatory effects (Fabb, 2015). Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used. Lucille Clifton is a good example of a poet who has been able to perfectly master the art of poetry as evidenced by the many poems she composed. She used the language to express her feelings and emotions as a wife, mother and a black American.

To start with, her poem’’ Good Times’’ is a good example of daily realities and mysteries faced in the daily lives. It is a poem that has put more emphasis on themes of family, female sensibility and African American experience. Besides her ability to express her feelings in a poetic way, Clifton has also made use of lyrics in her poetry thus making them have a little rhyme (Clifton, 2008). Lyrics in poetry are essential as they make it enjoyable to recite and read the poems. It is important to point out that most of her poetry consists of short and few verse poems that carry big ideas. She is also recognized for using simple language which has made it easy for many people to understand the content of her poetry. All the ideas are neatly presented in a few lines and with the use of simple to understand language.

Clifton’s poetry is also known to be of different forms and structures. In addition, use of imagery, metaphors, and other stylistic devices are also evident in most poems by Clifton use of these stylistic devices makes it easy for the poet to pass her message to the readers. For instance, in the poem ‘’Miss Rosie’’ there is the use of evocative images where the poet describes a character as “a wet brown bag of a woman.” Also, the poet has also been able to artistically use metaphors in her poetry which has made a significant impact in her art (Clifton, 2008). For example in the poem ‘’Lucy and her Girls’’ has used metaphors when she relates the power of family ties to natural phenomenon. The contrast and tension Clifton achieves through a frequent juxtaposition of concepts, as in “inner city,” is laudatory.

Also, most of her poetry work is characterized with clarity and confidence of real life situations. Although most of these poems are short, the weight of the message and emotions contained in the poems is massive. Always, Clifton defines and affirms the African American experience, politically and aesthetically, with originality, voice, dignity, and pride (Clifton, 2008). The use of rhythm, sound, alliteration, repetition, images, rhetoric and other stylistic devices has made Clifton’s poems outstanding and excellent examples of how a good poem should look like (Fabb, 2015). In a nutshell, all poems by Clifton can be classified as great poems while Clifton herself also qualifies to be a good poet who has been able to perfectly use language to express her feelings and emotions.



Clifton, L. (2008). Blessing the boats. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions.

Fabb, N. (2015). What is poetry? Language and memory in the poems of the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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