Those who were still snow-bound last weekend might not have heard the sad news: Former state poet laureate and National Book Award winner Lucille Clifton died Saturday at age 73, after a long battle with cancer and other illnesses. Her obituary in the Baltimore Sun
noted that the long-time Columbia resident was known for a mix of profundity, earthiness and humor in her 11 books of poetry. UPDATE: This 2/16 post includes details of memorial services.
The obit listed some of her many honors: She was state poet laureate from 1979 to 1985. She was the first black woman to win the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize award (2007), which is among the most prestigious awards for American poets and which carries a $100,000 stipend. She won the National Book Award in 2001 for "Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000" and was a two-time Pulitzer finalist.
At Poets.org you can read some of her poems, including "blessing the boats," and hear her provocative voice reading "homage to my hips."
May she rest in peace.