Born in Depew, New York on June 27th, Lucille Sayles Clifton was raised by parents who made sure their children had plenty of books to read, especially books by African American authors. Ms. Clifton entered Howard University at age 16, graduating with a degree in drama. Writing poetry, and consciously working to write differently than Eurocentric poets did, poet Robert Hayden entered her poems in the 1969 YW-YMCA Poetry Center Discovery Award. She won the award, the prize for which was the publication of her first volume of poems, Good Times. In 1970, her first two books for children were published: The Black ABC’ sand Some of the Days of Everett Anderson. Everett Anderson was, in fact, the featured character in 14 more books of poetry for children, including Everett Anderson’s Goodbye, which received the Coretta Scott King Award in 1984. Clifton served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1982. She has received numerous honorary degrees, a grant from the NEA, the National Book Award, and an Emmy award. In 1999, Ms. Clifton was named Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has been a professor at St. Mary’s College in Maryland and Columbia University in New York.
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