JMU Furious Flower Poetry Center to Host Poet Lucille Clifton

From: Public Affairs

June 12, 2009

The Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University will host a reading by Pulitzer Prize-nominated and Emmy award-winning poet Lucille Clifton at 7 p.m., Friday, June 19, in Ballroom C of the Festival Conference and Student Center.

The free, public event concludes a weeklong seminar on the former Maryland Poet Laureate's work.

"Lucille Clifton is such an important figure in poetry because she speaks in a language that is lucid, passionate and that is so in touch with human nature. She's also a poet who has suffered reality, and because of that she has a certain compassion for women who are suffering and who are frail," said Dr. Joanne Gabbin, executive director of Furious Flower. "She believes in the importance of history. She's really a launching pad for understanding life."

The seminar will bring together more than 40 teachers and scholars to examine Clifton's lifetime of contributions to American poetry. The Furious Flower Poetry Center has hosted two of the nation's largest conferences on African American literature, in 1994 and 2004. The Center hosts visiting poets, sponsors poetry workshops for emerging poets, holds an annual poetry camp for children in the community and produces scholarly texts, videos and DVDs on African American poetry.

"I hope the teachers take away a wonderful lesson plan to teach poetry. One of our goals is to help teachers teach poetry and have enough materials to teach a unit on African American poetry," Gabbin said. "But I really want them to take away inspiration. Even if they don't teach Lucille Clifton's poetry, I hope they will be inspired to read her poetry."

Clifton, whose collection "Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980" (1987) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, also is the author of "Generations: A Memoir" (1976), more than 16 books for children and several other collections of poetry, including "Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000," which won the National Book Award. She received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2007 for her lifetime achievements.

For more information, visit http://www.jmu.edu/furiousflower/.

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