The Poet as Mentor and Model
A poet’s audience often includes other poets. If you want to write good poetry, you need to read good poetry and a lot of it. Then you need to read more. It’s not just about the writing. Poet and short story writer Aafa Michael Weaver wrote this about Lucille Clifton:
Rooted in that vernacular consciousness and endowed with an encompassing intelligence and supremely keen intuition, Lucille was also as originally American as the blues and jazz. She resisted the homage to western tradition with its Athenian origins. In her work, antiquity is African but not Afro-centric. In the distinctness of her poetic project she gave us a black woman’s confessional lyric that is as celestial as it is earthbound. She wrote openly of the female body, openly and defiantly, and she wrote about the pressurized space of a black woman as a survivor of childhood trauma. In doing so she gave me a model that would take me two decades to know, and the process of “knowing” is the key to that pressurized space. … “Two Puffy Afros Going Down the Road: On Lucille Clifton’s Influence,” The California Journal of Poetics.