Poem for the Day: September 17th, 2021

The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton

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 was born exactly 64 days after my paternal grandmother, on June 27th, 1936. She was discovered by Langston Hughes, who was shown her poetry by Ishmael Reed, himself an acclaimed Black poet and novelist. Clifton was extremely prolific during her writing career, having more than thirty works published, including poetry collections, children’s books, and memoirs. In addition to many other accolades and awards, she was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2007. The Book of Light, the collection from which today’s poem was taken, is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

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