Dead [Women] Poets Society Blog

Warda Yassin resurrects Lucille Clifton

Updated: 6 days ago

Last year, just before lockdown, Warda Yassin and Suzannah Evans resurrected Lucille Clifton and Nadia Anjuman at DINA, Sheffield, on the third event of our Arts Council England funded tour. This was one of our very favourite events that we’ve ever run because both the poets were fantastic, the open mic was brilliant, and the atmosphere was perfect. In the wildness of the pandemic, we never published Warda’s response to Clifton. So – happy Halloween – here it is.

First, a little about Clifton, taken from Warda’s resurrection.

Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) was a juggernaut African American poet who was twice shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and who inspired others to question the use of form, structure, punctuation as she subverted the norms of poetry of the 1960s.

Clifton was born in New York as Thelma Lucille Sayles to a launderer mother (who secretly wrote poetry) and a steel mill worker father. Her parents worked hard to make sure their children read, and Clifton went on to study Drama at Howard University. Clifton’s family prided themselves on their roots and West African ancestry to the Kingdome of Dahomey, a tribe famed for their female warriors, self-sufficiency and bravery – and, as her mother would remind her, of her female ancestry’s strength.