Monday, September 27, 2010

Ethel Smith Celebrates Lucille Clifton

Ethel Smith is just back from James Madison University and shares the following report on the Celebration in honor of Lucille Clifton:

Trudier Harris, Sandy Govan, Opal Moore, and Ethel Smith
73 Poems for 73 years: Celebrating the life of poet Lucille Clifton was a literary-studded event of poets and poetry lovers from across the country, gathered at James Madison University’s Furious Flower Poetry Center on Sept 22, 2010. Such a gala event could have only been successful with the leadership of Professors Nikki Giovanni and Joanne Gabbin. Other dignitaries included, Rita Dove, Mari Evans, Maryemma Graham, Opal Moore, Lucinda Roy, Sonia San Chez Val Gray Ward, and so many others. I read the poem “Amazon,” from the book Blessing the Boats.

Her poem “homage to my hips” read by Professor Trudier Harris stole the reading part of the show:

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 magic hips.
I have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

In between poetry readings the packed audience was entertained by the music of The Elliot Family String Quartet, Mr. Jefferson Bones (and I did not make that up), Treasurer Williams, and the Madison Singers.

And in the end Lucille’s beautiful daughters joined in the celebration. It was a grand send off for and grand poet.

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