04 February 2016

Poetry Thursday - Homage to my Hips by Lucille Clifton


homage to my hips

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,   
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

Asked about the brevity of her poems, Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) said, "I have six children, and I can only keep about 20 lines in memory until the end of the day." Her first book, published in 1969, is centred around her family, and was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. Her work emphasises endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life.

Reading about Lucille Clifton (here) I lost count of how many books she had published (plus she wrote books for children). This one particularly interested me - it seems to be structured much like a quilt itself is structured:

"Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (1991)also won widespread critical acclaim. Using a quilt as a poetic metaphor for life, each poem is a story, bound together through history and figuratively sewn with the thread of experience. Each section of the book is divided by a conventional quilt design name—"Eight-pointed Star" and "Tree of Life"—which provides a framework for Clifton’s poetic quilt."

As for the image at the top of the post - this is "Grateful Dance" (2010) by Ranell Hansen, who says: "I created it in commemoration of my two hip replacements and in gratitude that I have mobility again."

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