BOOK REVIEW: How to Carry Water by Lucille Clifton

How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille CliftonHow to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton by Lucille Clifton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars page


This is a new collection of selected poems of Lucille Clifton. Clifton fans who’ve already read her “Collected Poems” or her individual collections should be aware that there are ten poems included that have not previously been published. Aracelis Girmay is the editor of the volume and did the selection and arrangement of the poems, and I think she did a fine job with the task.

The poems are largely free verse, and heavily feature confessional and social justice poetry. That said, it is a diverse selection across the poetess’s career, and offers poems that will resonate with anyone. There are poems that examine the world from the perspective of group identity (i.e. as an African American, a woman, or both of the above.) There are also poems that pivot on Clifton’s life experience as an individual – e.g. a cancer survivor who had a mastectomy. Her poetry is bold in its candidness in dealing with issues ranging from civil rights to women’s health.

I found this collection to be powerful and evocative, and would highly recommend it for readers of poetry.

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