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Biography of Lucille Clifton: Homage to My Hips



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    Shane Reid Reid1 “homage to my hips” Lucille Clifton was born and raised in Depew, N. Y. (June 27, 1936). She attended Howard University in Washington D. C. , Then transferring to Fredonia College near Buffalo, N. Y. It was when she attended Fredonia State Teachers College that she was experimenting and exploring poetry, drama, and other various things that went on to shape her writing.

    In 1971 she became a writer in residence at the Historically Black College Coppin State in Baltimore, MD. She received a creative writing fellowship From the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970 and 1973. The poem “homage to my hips” appeared in Clifton’s 1980 collection two- headed woman. (Brooks, The thoughts of a woman 1). Empowerment is promoted in line1-3. “these hips are big hips they need space to move around in. (Clifton, homage 1-3) A persons natural instinct is to have their own space provided it be your own personal space or room to move about without adherence from others.

    The author speaks of empowering with her selection of words” they don’t like to be held back these hips have never been enslaved. (Clifton, 8). The speaker also implies that a parallel exists between the oppression of women and the oppression of African Americans. Reid 2 In diction, the generality and abstractness of the words “free” (line 6), “held back” (line 7), and “enslaved” (line 8), as well as their connotations of the history of African Americans in the United States, help broaden, in more than one sense, what the hips represent to include racial as well as gender concerns.

    Hence, the scope of the second part of the poem (lines 5- 10) widens, including the poem’s longest line — “These hips have never been enslaved” (line 8) — now combining feminist and African American desire for freedom over constraint. The hips should not be confined by constrictive garments, male esthetic criteria, or forced roles; similarly, African Americans should not be hemmed in by limitations of their freedom in political, economic, or social spheres. ( Hudson and Bolden).

    A person whom has been enslaved by a vice or circumstances is powerless and she speaks contrary to this by giving the reader a strong sense of being in control of one’s own destiny. The authors’ literary devices are intriguingly in depth with diction. Her use of wording in Lines 1-3 are expressed not in first meaning but 3rd, 4th or 5th. For instance “these hips are big hips” Webster’s defines big as important, noble or generous she uses words of powerful meanings. Thus, “they need space to move around in. ”Webster’s defines space as a limitless area in which all things exist and move. Clifton homage. 1-3). In “Homage to My Hips”, Lucille Clifton creates some kind of imagery pertaining to her hips. She seems all into herself, more specifically, her hips. She makes it a point to convey that her hips are strong or powerful by the lines “they go where they want to go. /they do Reid 3 what they want to do. /these hips are mighty. ” (9-11) She gets into how her hips are big and mighty, no one can hold them back, and how they can even seduce men. Although this poem is quite simple and short it says alot.

    This poem reveals the beauty and the working of poetic language and imagery. It captures the symbolism of the body and illustrates who is in charge. This woman is obviously proud of her body and tries to turn it into an advantage. These 15 lines try to reveal the body’s power and express selfhood. Cited: Sarah Brooks, The thoughts of a woman biography Clifton, homage to my hips Hudson, Theodore, and B. J. Bo 7th ed. Ed. Thomas Riggs. Detroit lden. “Clifton, (Thelma) Lucille. ” Contemporary Poets. : St. James P – Gale Group, 2001

    Biography of Lucille Clifton: Homage to My Hips. (2018, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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