Former state poet laureate Lucille Clifton, a National Book Award winner whose work was lauded for its “moral quality,” died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a long battle with cancer and other illnesses. She was 73.
With a mix of profundity, earthiness and humor — amply evident in her 11 books of poetry — Ms. Clifton often defied conventional notions of poetic expression, but in many ways her themes were traditional, Wallace R. Peppers wrote in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
“She writes of her family because she is greatly interested in making sense of their lives and relationships; she writes of adversity and success in the ghetto community; and she writes of her role as a poet,” according to Mr. Peppers.
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Ms. Clifton, a resident of Columbia, was a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and was honored on many other occasions during her career. She was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Maryland and Towson University. She was the poet-in-residence at Coppin State College between 1971 and 1974.