vocalisms #8: Lucille Clifton

vocalisms is a twice monthly feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.

You may have noticed that older readings featured in this blog series are sound rather than video recordings: on voca, you’ll only hear rather than see poets that read between 1963 and 1999. Although I appreciate the opportunity to actually see the poets in recordings from 2000 on, I love the way that having only the audio focuses my attention more fully on the nuances of a poet’s performance. Lucille Clifton’s work shines in audio only format: she reads with a lively, performative style, and the crowd’s appreciation for her humor can be clearly heard. Clifton was a great friend of the Poetry Center, and she read here five times between 1975 and 2007. “homage to my hips,” which opens her 1983 reading, includes commentary on Clifton’s love of Arizona and her approach to giving readings. Keep listening to this reading if you have time: Clifton selects wonderful poems and continues to provide funny, insightful remarks throughout.

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