Monday, February 15, 2010

Passages: Lucille Clifton, Dick Francis

Two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of the National Book Award (for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000) and former poet laureate of Maryland Lucille Clifton passed away on February 13 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. She was 73 years old.

According to one news item, Clifton was born “Thelma Lucille Sayles in Depew, N.Y., 9 miles east of Buffalo on June 27, 1936. Her father was a steelworker, and she was raised and educated in the Buffalo area before receiving a scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C.”

From The Baltimore Sun:
With a mix of profundity, earthiness and humor -- amply evident in her 11 books of poetry -- Ms. Clifton often defied conventional notions of poetic expression, but in many ways her themes were traditional, Wallace R. Peppers wrote in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

“She writes of her family because she is greatly interested in making sense of their lives and relationships; she writes of adversity and success in the ghetto community; and she writes of her role as a poet,” according to Mr. Peppers.
Clifton was the author of 11 collections of poetry and 20 books for children. As well, her poems have appeared in over 100 anthologies.

Also this past weekend, British jockey-turned-novelist Dick Francis passed away at his home in the Cayman Islands. From the author’s Web site:
Dick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. The winner of over 350 races, he was champion jockey in 1953/1954 and rode for HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. On his retirement from the sport he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-one bestselling novels, a volume of short stories (Field of 13), and the biography of Lester Piggott. He is rightly acclaimed as one of the greatest thriller writers in the world.
The Rap Sheet has more about Francis here.



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