Lucille Clifton was an American poet, writer, and educator from Buffalo, New York. From 1979 to 1985 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. Clifton was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
Lucille Clifton (born Thelma Lucille Sayles, in Depew, New York) grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1953. She attended Howard University with a scholarship from 1953 to 1955, leaving to study at the State University of New York at Fredonia (near Buffalo).
Clifton was a prolific and widely respected poet, her work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. From 1985 to 1989, Clifton was a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. From 1995 to 1999, she was a visiting professor at Columbia University.
Lucille Clifton received a Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970 and 1973, and a grant from the Academy of American Poets. She received the Charity Randall prize, the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review, and an Emmy Award. Her children’s book Everett Anderson’s Good-bye won the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award.