10 Poems by Lucille Clifton, Chronicler of the African-American Experience

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) was a poet, teacher, and children’s book author whose life and career began in western New York. Her poetry is recognizable because of its purposeful lack of punctuation and capitalization. Here is a selection of 10 poems by Lucille Clifton, a small sampling of her prolific output.

Clifton’s widely respected poetry focuses on social issues, the African American experience, and the female identity. Her poetry has been praised for its wise use of strong imagery, and lines that have even given the spacing of words meaning.

Poet Elizabeth Alexander praises Clifton’s use of strong language in her poetry, which was often spare and brief. Robin Becker of The American Poetry Review states that Clifton emphasizes the human element and morality of her poetry that’s amplified by the use of improper grammar. Read More→

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton, american poet

Lucille Clifton (June 26, 1936 – February 13, 2010) was a prolific American poet, teacher, and children’s book author. Clifton’s work focused on issues of race, family affairs, and gender through the lens of the African-American experience.

Clifton’s poetry was first published by Langston Hughes, who included it in his impactful anthology, The Poetry of the Negro (1746-1970).  Read More→

The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West (1930)

The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West, published in 1930, is a novel that critiques the aristocracy of the early 20th century. The work was very much a reflection of the world that Vita grew up in.

As the only child of the aristocratic Victoria and Lionel Edward Sackville-West, a Baron, she had all the duties of a male heir, yet as a female, she wasn’t able to inherit Knole, the castle in which the small family lived.

In The Edwardians, the country estate of Knole castle becomes the fictional Chevron. Within the fictional framework, Vita reproduces in exquisite detail its physical features.  Read More→

8 Fascinating Facts About Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965) was an American playwright and author best known for A Raisin in the Sun, a 1959 play that was influenced by her background and upbringing in Chicago. The fascinating facts about Lorraine Hansberry that follow illustrate her growth as an African American woman, activist, and writer.

Though A Raisin in the Sun is the crown jewel in Hansberry’s legacy, she was also known for the plays The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window and Les Blancs. 

To Be Young, Gifted and Black was a posthumously produced play and  collection of writings that capped a brief and brilliant career. When she died of pancreatic cancer in 1965, she was only 34 years old. Read More→

How Alice Walker Rediscovered Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten

After discovering, reading, and rereading Zora Neale Hurston’s works, Alice Walker felt as if she knew Hurston personally. By the time of Hurston’s death, most of her considerable body of work was out of print, rarely read or studied. Here we’ll explore how Alice Walker rediscovered Zora Neale Hurston and revived her literary legacy.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) had a dual career as an anthropologist and author, incorporating regional and cultural realism in her short stories, folklore collections, and novels.

Alice Walker (1944 – ) is an activist, novelist, short story writer, and poet best known for the 1982 novel The Color Purple. Works by Walker and Hurston were included in a 1967 anthology of stories. Yet Alice Walker wasn’t very familiar with Zora Neale Hurston at the time. Read More→

Quotes from Elizabeth Taylor’s Fiction: Glimpsing the British Novelist’s Gifts

Elizabeth Taylor (1912 – 1975) knew from a young age that she wanted to be a novelist — to be clear, this isn’t  in reference to the renowned actress, but to the prolific British author. In the following selection of quotes from Elizabeth Taylor’s fiction, we get a glimpse of her literary gifts. 

Her first novel, At Mrs Lippincote’s, was published in 1945. Here, Roddy, an RAF officer has been stationed in a small town in southern England and, now, his wife and son and cousin have joined him in what used to be Mrs Lippincote’s house. Mr and Mrs Lippincote have died, but the Davenant family is building a life together. Read More→

Quotes by British Novelist Elizabeth Taylor on Love and Loneliness, Beauty and Marriage

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor

A unique voice comes through in the following selection of quotes by British author Elizabeth Taylor (not to be confused with the actress of the same name) on love, loneliness, beauty, and marriage from her novels and short stories.

Elizabeth Taylor (1912 – 1975) knew from a young age that she wanted to be a novelist. She received high marks in English as a student and, after graduation, borrowed books through the Boots Library system which informed her natural storytelling abilities: works by of Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Henry Fielding, E.M. Forster, Samuel Richardson, Ivan Turgenev and Virginia Woolf.

She found inspiration for twelve novels and sixty-five short stories in the everyday lives of ordinary people. She described it like this to her American publisher: Read More→

“Désirée’s Baby” by Kate Chopin: Motherhood and Miscegenation in 19th-Century America

Bayou Folk by Kate Chopin

This analysis of “Désirée’s Baby,” an 1893 short story by Kate Chopin, explores the narrative of miscegenation and motherhood in the antebellum American South. Chopin is best known for the groundbreaking classic novella The Awakening (1899).

Désirée, a young woman adopted as a child, is married to a plantation owner named Armaud. She is startled when she suddenly realizes that their baby is of a darker complexion than her own and her husband’s.

Chopin uses the setting of Louisiana to create a delicate yet hostile environment for a disillusioned young mother. Motherhood in this era can be deemed sensitive and complicated, since Désirée lives in a time when its treatment is based on ethnicity and social stratification. Read More→

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