What they call you is one thing. What you answer to is something else.— Lucille Clifton
The most authentic Lucille Clifton quotes that will activate your desire to change
I write from my knowledge not my lack, from my strength not my weakness.
I am not interested if anyone knows whether or not I am familiar with big words, I am interested in trying to render big ideas in a simple way. I am interested in being understood not admired.
I do not feel inhibited or bound by what I am.
That does not mean that I have never had bad scenes relating to being Black and/or a woman, it means that other people’s craziness has not managed to make me crazy.
the lesson of the falling leaves the leaves believe such letting go is love such love is faith such faith is grace such grace is god i agree with the leaves
You might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is furiously knocking.
I think that were beginning to remember that the first poets didn't come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, "Ahhh." That was the first poem.
We need new words for what this is, this hunger entering our loneliness like birds, stunning our eyes into rays of hope. we need the flutter that can save us, something that will swirl across the face of what we have become and bring us grace.
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.
Things don't fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept.
People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that's a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.
I don't go get a poem. It calls me and I accept it.
I am running into a new year and the old years blow back like a wind that I catch in my hair like strong fingers like all my old promises and it will be hard to let go of what I said to myself about myself when I was sixteen and twenty-six and thirty-six but I am running into a new year and I beg what i love and I leave to forgive me.
Intellect doesn't translate across cultures; intuition does.
Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed.
Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.
The end of a thing, is never the end, something is always being born like a year of a baby.
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
You cannot play for safety and make art.
Even when the universe made it quite clear to me that I was mistaken in my certainties ... I did not break. The shattering of my sureties did not shatter me.
telling the truth about children's lives is radical.
All people, even one's own children, come with baggage.
When they're little, you have to help them carry it. But when they grow up, you have to do that difficult thing of setting their baggage down and taking up your own again.
the lost women I need to know their names those women I would have walked with, jauntily the way men go in groups swinging their arms, and the ones those sweating women whom I would have joined After a hard game to chew the fat what would we have called each other laughing joking into our beer? where are my gangs, my teams, my mislaid sisters? all the women who could have known me, where in the world are their names?
blessing the boats (at saint mary’s) may the tide that is entering even now the lip of our understanding carry you out beyond the face of fear may you kiss the wind then turn from it certain that it will love your back may you open your eyes to water water waving forever and may you in your innocence sail through this to that
may you kiss the wind then turn from it certain that it will love your back
My Mama Moved Among the Days My Mama moved among the days like a dreamwalker in a field; seemed like what she touched was here seemed like what touched her couldn't hold, she got us almost through the high grass then seemed like she turned around and ran right back in right back on in
Tell the truth... maybe just to see clearly, as clearly as possible.
I am a black woman poet and I sound like one.
To be a good poet, you must care more about the writing, than the writer.
Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing.
If i should enter the house and speak with my own voice, at last, about its awful furnitutre, pulling apart the covering over the dusty bodies; the randy father, the husband holding ice in his hand like a blessing, the mother bleeding into herself and the small imploding girl, i say if i should walk into that web, who will come flying after me, leaping tall buildings? you?
Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.
Children when they ask you why your mama so funny say she is a poet she don't have no sense
We cannot create what we can't imagine.
I keep hearing tree talk water words and i keep knowing what they mean.
don’t write out of what I know; I write out of what I wonder. I think most artists create art in order to explore, not to give the answers. Poetry and art are not about answers to me; they are about questions.
Say it clear, and it will be beautiful.
they ask me to remember but they want me to remember their memories and I keep on remembering mine
In the bigger scheme of things the universe is not asking us to do something, the universe is asking us to be something. And that's a whole different thing.