Lifesaving Lines: The Death of Fred Clifton, by Lucille Clifton

So this is a bit spooky. All week I had in mind these marvellous final words from Lucille Clifton’s poem of grief and acceptance ‘The Death of Fred Clifton’. They’ve been going round my head for a while now. Last year I came close to using them as an epigram for the collection I was working on. They gave me the wild idea (it’s January, grey and cold and I am still grieving) to do a riff reminding myself of the things I love, both in poetry and the real world, and the overlap between them, just, well, because.

And then Shawna Lemay goes and pretty much writes the blog post I wanted to write. Which isn’t just fine, it’s great, because Shawna is the best and one of the main reasons I keep going. But just to add to the love and the hope, if I may, for a moment, here are some of the things, as in things that I love and need to have near me just now:

blethering on the phone with Josephine Corocoran about all the poets she is reading and I am not reading and who is accepting and not accepting our poems and how to keep going in spite of all of this

the Frank O’Hara book Shimi gave me for Christmas which inexplicably I did not own and have been gobbling up ever since a bit like when I first fell in love with him 123 years ago

the very tender poems of love, memory and grief in Adam Zagajewski’s last book, Asymmetry, beautifully translated by Clare Cavanagh

Shawna’s blog, always (as if you need to ask)

working with Sue on Young Poets’ Stories

the sax solo, brief as a breath of wind, in Tina Nordenstam’s Little Star (not to mention all of it, obvs)

French notebooks (people of France, we love you!)

having a theme tune in your head that you absolutely cannot do without:

Season 6 of Queer Eye

Licorice Pizza. I mean, Come On!

Simon Parke’s post on anger and staying human

friendship. Anita. Jim. Peter. Nell. Nigel. Sue. David and Harriet. You know why. Thank you.


  1. Those ‘things’ in that poem are wonderful. It reminds me of Ruth Pitter’s The Bird in the Tree, which I can’t find online in a form that’s good to read (it’s there but not formatted properly). So I’ll send it to you separately.

    Liked by 1 person

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