Poets from Buffalo Leave a Rousing Legacy

Debbie says:

Lucille Clifton was one of the great poets of the 20th century:

Here’s the full text of that poem. There’s lots more on the Web and in her books.

won’t you celebrate with me

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.

Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me” from Book of Light (Copper Canyon Press, 1993).

Okay, since this is Body Impolitic, we need one more Lucille Clifton poem:

That’s the whole poem, and it’s from Good Woman. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.

Gabrielle Bouliane was much younger, less widely known. I only know about her because she was important to my good friend Fran:

Here’s part of a piece she wrote last year, which was read on her behalf at the 2009 Individual World Poetry Slam.

Just do me one last favor. Please. Love something. Anything. Start with yourself, but find passion in everything, from an apple pie to a novel, make a family, get a degree, walk whatever path is yours with your chin up and feet planted firmly. Have the best stories to tell in the old folk’s home, about lifelong friendships and epic love affairs, about the time you lost everything and yet found yourself happier than when you began.. and remember that time we got in SO much trouble…

Poets.. remember. This is the story that never ends. When one of us leaves, another walks through the door. The pages turn, the sun keeps rising. All you can do in the meanwhile.. is to speak for yourself. Raise your voice high, tell your story, join hands against the dark and sing our souls to the sky. Know the best in me comes from the best in you, that as you tell your story, you will be telling mine, and our lives will be linked together forever, and everyone who hears you will become a part of the change we make.

Hear the similarities along with the differences? Must be something in the water in Buffalo …

I got these clips from all over the blogosphere, including Like a Whisper, onyxlynx, Maevele, and Fran Varian.