Won't you celebrate with me

Lucille Clifton. Image from NPR.org.

Lucille Clifton. Image from NPR.org.

A quick lesson that I have learned in a few days of aiming to introduce readers to a new poem each day is that I am just as fascinated with the poet and his/her life as I am with the poem.  Today's poem is by Lucille Clifton who has had a fascinating life.  So, I will post less often and gather as much information that is available in the public domain as I can about the poet.  Won't you celebrate with me is a celebration of strength and womanhood and the struggles of African American women. 

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.

Poets.org is a wonderful online resource for information about your favorite poet/poem. Please read more about the fascinating life of Ms. Clifton here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lucille-clifton. Of note, she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she completed two collections: Good News About the Earth (Random House, 1972) and An Ordinary Woman (Random House, 1974).  She was the author ofseveral other collections of poetry, including Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, 2000), which won the National Book Award; Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 (BOA Editions, 1987), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; and Two-Headed Woman (University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), also a Pulitzer Prize nominee as well as the recipient of the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize.  She also authored more than sixteen books for children.

Her honors include an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Lannan Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shelley Memorial Award, the YM-YWHA Poetry Center Discovery Award, and the 2007 Ruth Lilly Prize.

In 1999, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland from 1979 to 1985, and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

A tribute to Ms. Clifton from NPR. Ms. Clifton passed away in 2010.

Resignation

I love you because you made me want to love you more than I love my privacy, my freedom, my commitments.
— Nikki Giovanni (image from Wikipedia)

Resignation

By Nikki Giovanni

I love you
            because the Earth turns round the sun
            because the North wind blows north
                 sometimes
            because the Pope is Catholic
                 and most Rabbis Jewish
            because the winters flow into springs
                 and the air clears after a storm
            because only my love for you
                 despite the charms of gravity
                 keeps me from falling off this Earth
                 into another dimension
I love you
            because it is the natural order of things

I love you
            like the habit I picked up in college
                 of sleeping through lectures
                 or saying I’m sorry
                 when I get stopped for speeding
            because I drink a glass of water
                 in the morning
                 and chain-smoke cigarettes
                 all through the day
            because I take my coffee Black
                 and my milk with chocolate
            because you keep my feet warm
                 though my life a mess
I love you
            because I don’t want it
                 any other way

I am helpless
            in my love for you
It makes me so happy
            to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
            locking me in an echo chamber
            where your voice reverberates
            through the four walls
            sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
            because it’s been so good
            for so long
            that if I didn’t love you
            I’d have to be born again
            and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
            is so simple
            the thought though of you
            sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
            thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
            because no two snowflakes are alike
            and it is possible
            if you stand tippy-toe
            to walk between the raindrops
I love you
            because I am afraid of the dark
                 and can’t sleep in the light
            because I rub my eyes
                 when I wake up in the morning
                 and find you there
            because you with all your magic powers were
                 determined that
I should love you
            because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you

I love you
            because you made me
                 want to love you
            more than I love my privacy
                 my freedom          my commitments
                      and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
            to love you
            because you saw me one Friday
                 afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

A Year of Poetry

I love poetry! 

The first poems that I remember learning and reciting were all excerpts from Bible verses; however, the first poem that I remember learning in school and can still recite today is by Jeannie Kirby.

I wonder why the grass is green
And why the wind is never seen?

Who taught the birds to build a nest,
And told the trees to take a rest?

O, when the moon is not quite round,
Where can the missing bit be found?

Who lights the stars, when they blow out,
And makes the lightning flash about?

Who paints the rainbow in the sky,
And hangs the fluffy clouds so high?

Why is it now, do you suppose,
That Dad won't tell me, if he knows?

By Jeannie Kirby

I find kids today aren't as excited about poetry.  However, poems are a gateway to the soul.  They touch us in places that are difficult for other forms of art to reach.  In that spirit, I am challenging myself and my readers to join me in reading at least 1 poem each day. Please enjoy the postings, post your own or your favorite from an author (with attribution) and give me your thoughts on each piece. Happy Reading! #ReadingisLife #APoemADay @LoveAutherine