Essay on Clifton Research Review

Submitted By dvalencia51
Words: 973
Pages: 4

Deborah Valencia
March 23, 2015
EL4030-HY1 Woman and Narrative
Professor Williams

Lucille Clifton and the Celebration of Life

There is no argument that Lucille Clifton uses her poetry as a platform for issues that she finds important enough to write about. One of the things that she writes about in all of her poems is life. Most of her poetry seems to be a celebration of life. She provides a different perspective to issues and brings new light to the way that they are viewed. The things that she writes about and celebrates are often the very same things that we as people are very quick to complain about. Joyce Johnson, the author of “The Theme of Celebration in Lucille Clifton’s Poetry”, provides many examples as to how this is true. She first starts off by including a statement made by Clifton herself when someone asked her why she writes. Clifton answered “I write to celebrate life” (70). Right off the bat we knew that this was what the article was going to be about. Johnson strengthens her argument by including certain poems written by Clifton that show celebration of life. These poems also demonstrate a certain proudness for where she has come from. An example that she uses is in the poem “in the inner city”. Johnson demonstrates how Clifton differentiates how others view the inner city and how the people who live in the inner city view it. She makes sure to mention that for the people who live there it is not just the inner city, it is their home. And they are proud of it, and they celebrate and love it. She writes, “Clifton creates contrast and tension by juxtaposing the two concepts. One invites a kind of sympathetic head shaking resulting from the bad mouthing done by sociologists who peer in from the outside and are blinded from their outsiderness and their theories. The other is a view shared by those inside who participate in the vitality of their home and who recognize their good fortune to be there. The contrast is implied rather than stated”(71). In my opinion, Johnson does a good job at proving her point that Clifton uses her poetry to celebrate life. She does this by doing close readings of certain texts. Although Johnson does make her point clear, she also misses a key point in the majority of Clifton’s poetry, and that is the fact that Clifton is a woman and that she celebrates the fact that she is a female. We see many examples of how Clifton celebrates woman in her poems in Blessing the Boats. One poem that stands out in particular is the poem titled “female”. The poem is short, but makes a big statement. It says, “there is an amazon in us./ she is the secret we do not/ have to learn./ the strength that opens us/ beyond ourselves./ birth is our birthright./ we smile our mysterious smile”(Clifton 40). In this poem, Clifton is praising women, and telling them to be proud of being female because they were born that way. And by comparing women to amazon’s she is giving females the strength that the amazon’s had. Most of the poems that were read in class have to to with the celebration of woman and making woman feel proud of it. In her poem “poem in praise of menstruation”, she makes the reader feel proud to be menstruating. When you think of female menstruation in society today it is often looked at negatively or not even looked at at all. It is looked at as a problem to be solved or looked at as a problem that has to be taken care of or has to have a solution. But Clifton completely changes that mindset and turns it around for something to be proud of. For me as the reader, I automatically felt a