Lucille Clifton Prize

The Lucille Clifton annual poetry contest, held each spring, honors the prolific work of poet great Lucille Clifton. Widely celebrated for her unpretentious and unapologetic poems, Clifton’s unique free verse was free of punctuation, taut, and always recognizably her.

“Lucille Clifton’s life and work bears testament and witness to her fierce and courageous innate ability to distill life’s most wondrous and terrible moments into words that sear and resonate. She saw, heard, tasted, felt, and intuited; then spoke the truth, however unfathomable. She chose form and definition carefully; her writing has been described as “spare”, “simple” “powerful” and “empowering”; but it was also strategic and provocative even in it’s simplicity. Her lack of capital letters, minimal punctuation and free verse challenge the reader to dismiss their preconceived literary imprisonment and listen on her human terms. She was a truth-teller above all, and she was celebrated as much because of the power of her work as she was because it was impossible not to love and feel loved by her. Her life, her way of seeing and walking in the world were the backbone of her work. I am her daughter. Her backbone is mine. And yours.”   -Sidney Clifton