Subseries 2.2
Poetry, circa 1950-2008
Boxes 16-23 and 85; OP 2

Scope and Content Note

This subseries of poetry contains manuscript and typescript drafts of the collected and uncollected poems of Lucille Clifton from circa 1950s to 2008. Although Clifton's collected poetry is often divided into three thematic headings - race, religion, and family - Clifton herself maps her poetry more simply, describing it as motivated by the stuff of life. Indeed, many of her collected poems, which are arranged here in alphabetical order, are autobiographical in nature, detailing the lives of her family, her changing relationship to her body, and her struggles with personal illness and death. For many of both her collected and uncollected poems, Clifton provides multiple drafts, giving researchers insight into her creative process. Researchers should note that under the heading of Clifton's poetry collection, Next, there are several poems that are not part of the final publication. These poems existed as part of an earlier, much altered version of the poetry project entitled "Feast of Women." The final bolded header in collected poems is entitled "proposed compilations." This subsection contains two of Clifton's suggested compilations of already published works, which are photocopied and arranged thematically.

The uncollected poetry, arranged alphabetically in this series, spans much of Clifton's literary career, and many poems correspond in theme and content to those in her collected works. Counted among these uncollected poems are drafts of Clifton's early poetry she personally rejected as "Old Poems and Ones that May Not be Poems At All and Maybe Should be Thrown Away One Day," providing researchers with useful insights into both the writer's prolificacy and her creative judgment. These poems are physically located in their original folder, now entitled "Early Poems," and housed at the end of the subseries, but they are described with the rest of the poems in alphabetical order.

Arrangement Note

Organized into two subseries: (2.2a) Collected poems and (2.2b) Uncollected poems.

Description of Subseries