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Cave Wall Remembers Lucille Clifton

In her Editor’s Note, Cave Wall Editor Rhett Trull dedicates the issue (#7) to Lucille Clifton with this remembrance: “This year, with the death of Lucille Clifton, we lost a great poet. I had the privilege of studying with her when she was a visiting professor at Duke University. When I think of that class, the main thing I remember is her joy. She brought it with her into any room. It was a difficult time in my life, and I clung to Lucille Clifton’s every word as if it were a kind of gospel, a message not just on how to write but on how to live. She made the world seem full of wonder, impossible not to love.

“This does not mean she wrote only of beauty. On the contrary, Lucille Clifton’s poetry is a catalogue of the spectrum of emotions from sorrow to hope, joy to despair, anger to celebration; to each of these, she brought her sense of compassion. Above my desk hangs one of her quotes: ‘You can’t play for safety and make art.” In my notebooks, I’ve saved more of her wisdom from that semester: ‘Art is not about answers. Don’t be afraid to leave a poem unresolved.’ ‘A poem should never leave you where it found you.'”

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