✨✍🏾Today’s Poet ~ Lucille Clifton✍🏾✨ #FebruaryIsBlackHistoryMonth

 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lucille-clifton

 

A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton’s work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 (1987) and Next: New Poems (1987). Her collection Two-Headed Woman (1980) was also a Pulitzer nominee and won the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts. She served as the state of Maryland’s poet laureate from 1974 until 1985 and won the prestigious National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000). In addition to her numerous poetry collections, she wrote many children’s books. Clifton was a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Clifton is noted for saying much with few words. In a Christian Century review of Clifton’s work, Peggy Rosenthal commented, “The first thing that strikes us about Lucille Clifton’s poetry is what is missing: capitalization, punctuation, long and plentiful lines. We see a poetry so pared down that its spaces take on substance, become a shaping presence as much as the words themselves” In an American Poetry Review article about Clifton’s work, Robin Becker commented on Clifton’s lean style: “Clifton’s poetics of understatement—no capitalization, few strong stresses per line, many poems totaling fewer than twenty lines, the sharp rhetorical question—includes the essential only.”

Clifton’s first volume of poetry, Good Times (1969), was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. The poems, inspired by Clifton’s family of six young children, show the beginnings of Clifton’s spare, unadorned style and center around the facts of African-American urban life. Clifton’s second volume of poetry, Good News about the Earth: New Poems (1972), was written in the midst of the political and social upheavals of the late 1960s and 70s, and its poems reflect those changes, including a middle sequence that pays homage to black political leaders. Writing in Poetry, Ralph J. Mills, Jr., said that Clifton’s poetic scope transcends the black experience “to embrace the entire world, human and non-human, in the deep affirmation she makes in the teeth of negative evidence.” However, An Ordinary Woman (1974), Clifton’s third collection of poems, largely abandoned the examination of racial issues that had marked her previous books, looking instead at the writer’s roles as woman and poet. Helen Vendler declared in the New York Times Book Review that Clifton “recalls for us those bare places we have all waited as ‘ordinary women,’ with no choices but yes or no, no art, no grace, no words, no reprieve.” Generations: A Memoir (1976) is an “eloquent eulogy of [Clifton’s] parents,” Reynolds Price wrote in the New York Times Book Review, adding that, “as with most elegists, her purpose is perpetuation and celebration, not judgment…There is no sustained chronological narrative. Instead, clusters of brief anecdotes gather round two poles, the deaths of father and mother.” The book was later collected in Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir: 1969-1980, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize along with Next: New Poems (1987).

The book that followed Clifton’s dual Pulitzer nomination, Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (1991)also won widespread critical acclaim Using a quilt as a poetic metaphor for life, each poem is a story, bound together through history and figuratively sewn with the thread of experience. Each section of the book is divided by a conventional quilt design name—”Eight-pointed Star” and “Tree of Life”—which provides a framework for Clifton’s poetic quilt. Clifton’s main focus is on women’s history; however, according to Robert Mitchell in American Book Review, her poetry has a far broader range: “Her heroes include nameless slaves buried on old plantations, Hector Peterson (the first child killed in the Soweto riot), Fannie Lou Hamer (founder of the Mississippi Peace and Freedom Party), Nelson and Winnie Mandela, W. E. B. DuBois, Huey P. Newton, and many other people who gave their lives to [free] black people from slavery and prejudice.”

Enthusiasts of Quilting included critic Bruce Bennett in the New York Times Book Review, who praised Clifton as a “passionate, mercurial writer, by turns angry, prophetic, compassionate, shrewd, sensuous, vulnerable and funny…The movement and effect of the whole book communicate the sense of a journey through which the poet achieves an understanding of something new.” Clifton’s 1993 poetry collection, The Book of Light,contains poems on subjects ranging from bigotry and intolerance, epitomized by a poem about controversial U.S. Senator Jesse Helms; destruction, including a poem about the tragic bombing by police of a MOVE compound in Philadelphia in 1985; religion, characterized by a sequence of poems featuring a dialogue between God and the devil; and mythology, rendered by poems about figures such as Atlas and Superman. “If this poet’s art has deepened since … Good Times, it’s in an increased capacity for quiet delicacy and fresh generalization,” remarked Poetry contributor Calvin Bedient, declaring that when Clifton writes without “anger and sentimentality, she writes at her remarkable best.” Lockett concluded that the collection is “a gift of joy, a truly illuminated manuscript by a writer whose powers have been visited by grace.”

Both The Terrible Stories (1996) and Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000) shed light upon women’s survival skills in the face of ill health, family upheaval, and historic tragedy. Blessing the Boats is a compilation of four Clifton books, plus new poems, which, Becker noted in her review for American Poetry Review, “shows readers how the poet’s themes and formal structures develop over time.” Among the pieces collected in these volumes are several about the author’s breast cancer, but she also deals with juvenile violence, child abuse, biblical characters, dreams, the legacy of slavery, and a shaman-like empathy with animals as varied as foxes, squirrels, and crabs. She also speaks in a number of voices, as noted by Becker, including “angel, Eve, Lazarus, Leda, Lot’s Wife, Lucifer, among others … as she probes the narratives that undergird western civilization and forges new ones.”

Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the collection “distills a distinctive American voice, one that pulls no punches in taking on the best and worst of life.” The volume was awarded the National Book Award. Renee Olson reported on the award for Booklist that “Clifton was cited for evoking ‘the struggle, beauty, and passion of one woman’s life with such clarity and power that her vision becomes a representative, communal, and unforgettable.'” In Mercy (2004), Clifton’s twelfth book of poetry, the poet writes about the relationship between mothers and daughters, terrorism, prejudice, and personal faith. Clifton’s next book, Voices (2008), includes short verses personifying objects, as well as poems on more familiar terrain. Reviewing the book for the Baltimore Sun, Diane Scharper commented on the impetus of Clifton’s title: “Each section explores the ways the poet relates to voices: from those spoken by inanimate objects to those remembered to those “overheard” in the titles of pictures. Serving as a medium, the poet speaks not only for those things that have no voice but also for the feelings associated with them.”

Lucille Clifton was also a highly-regarded author for children. Her books for children were designed to help them understand their world and facilitate an understanding of black heritage specifically, which in turn fosters an important link with the past. In books like All Us Come Cross the Water (1973), Clifton created the context to raise awareness of African-American history and heritage. Her most famous creation, though, was Everett Anderson, an African-American boy living in a big city. Clifton went on to publish eight Everett Anderson titles, including Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (1984), which won the Coretta Scott King Award. Connecting Clifton’s work as a children’s author to her poetry, Jocelyn K. Moody in the Oxford Companion to African American Literature wrote: “Like her poetry, Clifton’s short fiction extols the human capacity for love, rejuvenation, and transcendence over weakness and malevolence even as it exposes the myth of the American dream.”

Speaking to Michael S. Glaser during an interview for the Antioch Review, Clifton reflected that she continues to write, because “writing is a way of continuing to hope … perhaps for me, it is a way of remembering I am not alone.” How would Clifton like to be remembered? “I would like to be seen as a woman whose roots go back to Africa, who tried to honor being human. My inclination is to try to help.”

[Updated 2010]

 

 

 

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✨✍🏾W.E.B Du Bois✍🏾✨ #FebruaryIsBlackHistoryMonth

Who Was W.E.B. Du Bois?

Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. 

Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963.

https://www.biography.com/.amp/people/web-du-bois-9279924

https://youtu.be/bhzPycsmnh4

https://youtu.be/kKXglS90qn4

https://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/poets/detail/w-e-b-du-bois

https://youtu.be/ld0wNaU8pHs

✨🎥Ossis Davis & Ruby Dee🎥✨#FebruaryIsBlackHistoryMonth

 

 

“Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis” 1963🎥

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ossie_Davis

Ossie Davis

Actor, Civil Rights Activist, Director, Playwright (1917-2005)

Ossie Davis was an American actor, writer, and director best known for his screen roles and for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Who Was Ossie Davis?

Ossie Davis was born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Georgia. After serving in World War II, Davis embarked on an acting career that would span decades. He starred on Broadway and television and in films. He also wrote and directed. Davis and his wife, actress Ruby Dee, were prominently involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Davis died on February 4, 2005, in Miami, Florida.

Early Life

Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia, on December 18, 1917. The name “Ossie” was bestowed accidentally when a county clerk misheard his mother’s pronunciation of the initials “R.C.”

Ossie enrolled at Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to pursue an acting career in New York City. He left New York to serve in World War II, returning in 1946.

Career

Davis modeled his career on the example of Sidney Poitier—an actor who was able to push past the stereotypical roles most frequently offered to African Americans. Like Poitier, Davis sought to bring dignity to the characters he played, including those with menial jobs or from poor backgrounds.

His early jobs on Broadway paved the way for a long career in television and film. While never achieving the commercial success of Poitier, Davis starred in respected films including The Cardinal and Do the Right Thing over the course of five decades. He also worked on television programs such as Evening Shade and The L Word.

In addition to acting, Davis wrote and directed plays and films. Along with Melvin Van Peebles and Gordon Parks, Davis as one of the notable African American directors of his generation, directing films including Cotton Comes to Harlem.

Personal Life

Davis married actress Ruby Dee in 1948. The couple spent most of their married lives in New Rochelle, New York, where they raised a family.

Both Davis and Dee were civil rights activists, maintaining close relationships with Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others. Davis delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Malcolm X and participated in a tribute to King at a New York service for the slain leader.

Honors

In 1989, Davis and Dee were inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. In 1995, they received the National Medal of Arts—the nation’s highest honor conferred to an artist on behalf of the country. They were honored by the Kennedy Center in 2004.

Death

Davis was found dead in Miami, Florida, on February 4, 2005. The cause of death was natural and may have been related to Davis’s recurring heart problems.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Dee

Fri, 10.27.1922

Ruby Dee, actress, and activist

Ruby Dee, 1957

Ruby Dee was born on this date in 1922. She was an African American actress and activist.

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, her father, Marshall Edward Wallace, was a porter and waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad; her mother, Emma Wallace, was a schoolteacher. She grew up in Harlem, New York, and was a 1945 graduate of Hunter College.

Dee was the first black woman to appear in major roles at the American Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, CT. She made several appearances on Broadway before getting national recognition for her role in the 1950 film, “The Jackie Robinson Story.” Her acting career has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades, including films such as “A Raisin in the Sun” opposite Sidney Poitier (1961), “Uptight” (1968), “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Roots” (1978), “Do The Right Thing” (1989), and “The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years” (1999). She married actor Ossie Davis and they had one son, Guy Davis, born in 1952.

During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films such as “Gone Are the Days” and “The Incident,” which paved the way for many young African American filmmakers and actors. She has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning once for her role in 1990s Decoration Day. Dee and her late husband, actor Ossie Davis, were well-known civil rights activists.

She is a member of such organizations as CORE, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She and her husband were personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Davis giving Malcolm X’s eulogy at his 1965 funeral.

Dee was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and a survivor of breast cancer for more than 30 years. Ruby Dee died on June 12, 2014.

Reference:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Academy Foundation

8949 Wilshire Boulevard

Beverly Hills, California 90211

Phone: 310-247-3000

https://aaregistry.org/story/ruby-dee-actress-and-activist/

 

“The Perfect Match”

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/arts/ossie-davis-ruby-dee-archives-schomburg.amp.html

 

“Ossie Davis Discusses His Wife”

 

 

“Ruby Dee Wasn’t Interested In Ossie At First”

 

https://www.ebony.com/news/ruby-dee-ossie-davis-daughters/?amp

 

https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com/harlems-fabulous-ruby-dee-1922-2014/

 

 

https://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/ruby-dee-actress-known-for-talent-activism-marriage-ossie-davis/9hqgpMwxDw2owLU7xd8lXO/amp.html

 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/ruby-dee-actress-and-activist-who-fought-for-civil-rights-and-broke-through-racial-barriers-on-9535853.html?amp

 

 

 

https://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2017/12/25/actor-activist-and-father-ossie-davis-remembered/