We know we ought to be enemies,her voice perhaps,thirty three years off the Delta andstill caked in mud ormy hair perhaps,bushed for the warrior women of Dahomey,we know we ought to be enemies, onlyOh Mr. Faulknerto prevail is such an awe full responsibilityto “have a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance”is an awe full responsibility butwe know we have to try it andwe are both trying to try itwered as the clay hills and blacker than loamfriends.
by Lucille Clifton
'My Friend Mary Stone From Oxford Mississippi' is copyright © BOA Editions, 2012, and reprinted from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, published by BOA Editions in 2012.
Notes from BOA Editions:
Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) was the 2007 recipient
of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, as well as the 2010 Frost Medal from the
Poetry Society of America. Her final poetry collection, Voices, was
published by BOA in September 2008. She was an award-winning poet,
fiction writer, and author of children's books. Her poetry book, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000, won the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry. Two of Clifton's BOA poetry collections, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980, and, Next: New Poems, were chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, the only author ever to have achieved this, while The Terrible Stories
was a finalist for the 1996 National Book Award. Clifton received
fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; an Emmy Award from
the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; the Shelley
Memorial Prize; and the Charity Randall Citation. She served as a
Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College in Maryland.
She was appointed a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, and elected as Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in
1999. You can find out more about the recent Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 here, where you can also read a further poem from the book. Watch a Lucille Clifton playlist, curated by BOA Editions, at this link.
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