a note to ms clifton

by Kiwanda Paul
PoetryCircle
Honorable Mention, May 2012
Judged by Shara McCallum


if there be a history for salt
in a black woman’s vibrations

and there be a gathering of poet tribes
to carry a female name across water

and if there be an anthem to hum
for the making of old bones

and there be a single root ribboning
through dahomey soil towards my daughter’s hands

i say lucille if there be a truth
this be the time for you. you. you.

and your twelve fingers


I was drawn to this elegy for the wonderful poet Lucille Clifton. The poem pays homage to Clifton by imitating her style and offering lines that are a kind of pastiche of those from Clifton’s own poetry, though revised and re-imagined in this context. The approach is a risky one that could fall flat but, instead, stands as a moving and fitting tribute. --Shara McCallum

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

  • November 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Radium Girls
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      The Unreliable Narrator
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Birds 2
      by JJ Williamson
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters