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The Book of Light

The Book of Light

Anniversary Edition

Lucille Clifton
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With a powerful introduction by Ross Gay and a moving afterword by Sidney Clifton, this special anniversary edition of The Book of Light offers new meditations and insights on one of the most beloved voices of the 20th century.

Though The Book of Light opens with thirty-nine names for light, we soon learn the most meaningful name is Lucille--daughter, mother, proud Black woman. Known for her ability to convey multitudes in few words, Clifton writes into the shadows--her father's violations, a Black neighborhood bombed, death, loss--all while illuminating the full spectrum of human emotion: grief and celebration, anger and joy, empowerment and so much grace.

A meeting place of myth and the Divine, The Book of Light exists "between starshine and clay" as Clifton's personas allow us to bear the world's weight with Atlas and witness conversations between Lucifer and God. While names and dates mark this text as a social commentary responding to her time, it is haunting how easily this collection serves as a political palimpsest of today. We leave these poems inspired--Clifton shows us Superman is not our hero. Our hero is the Black female narrator who decides to live. And what a life she creates! "Won't you celebrate with me?"



Lucille Clifton was born in Depew, New York in 1936, and educated at Howard University and the State University of New York at Fredonia. Known for her poetry, she was awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and served as the Maryland Poet Laureate from 1974-1985. A Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary's College of Maryland and a professor of English at Duke University, she has authored thirteen collections of poetry, numerous children's books, and her memoir, Generations. Clifton's work has been recognized with the Juniper Prize for Poetry, an Emmy Award, and two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Her collection Blessing the Boats: New and Selected, Poems 1988-2000 won the National Book Award and the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, of which she was the first Black female recipient.

Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding, winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His first collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller. His new collection of essays, Inciting Joy, will be released by Algonquin in October of 2022.

Sidney Clifton is an Emmy-nominated producer with over twenty years of experience as an executive producer and development executive of animated and live-action content across multiple platforms. Her passion for developing and supporting the underserved community of writers, artists, storytellers and creators was the catalyst for her launching The Clifton House; a writer's and artist's workshop and retreat space centered at her childhood home in Baltimore Maryland--the home she shared with her five siblings and parents, educator/activist Fred J. Clifton and National Book Award winning poet and author Lucille Clifton. Sidney currently serves as Jim Henson's Senior Vice President of Animation and Mixed Media and as Senior Consultant with Black Women Animate in Los Angeles.


  • Item Weight: 0.6 pounds
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • ISBN-13: 9781556596780
  • Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.1" x 6 inches
  • Publisher: Cooper Canyon Press (August 29, 2023)
  • Language: English
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