Virtual Event: Tracy K. Smith

presenting

Lucille Clifton's 

Generations:
A Memoir

in conversation with JOSHUA BENNETT

Date

Nov
19
Friday
November 19, 2021
7:00 PM ET

Location

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.

Tickets

Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes Pulitzer Prize–winning Poet Laureate TRACY K. SMITH for a discussion of Lucille Clifton's 1976 memoir, Generations, newly reissued by NYRB Classics with an introduction by Tracy. She will be joined in conversation by acclaimed poet and scholar JOSHUA BENNETT.

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About Generations

Buffalo, New York. A father’s funeral. Memory. In Generations, Lucille Clifton’s formidable poetic gift emerges in prose, giving us a memoir of stark and profound beauty. Her story focuses on the lives of the Sayles family: Caroline, “born among the Dahomey people in 1822,” who walked north from New Orleans to Virginia in 1830 when she was eight years old; Lucy, the first black woman to be hanged in Virginia; and Gene, born with a withered arm, the son of a carpetbagger and the author’s grandmother. Clifton tells us about the life of an African American family through slavery and hard times and beyond, the death of her father and grandmother, but also all the life and love and triumph that came before and remains even now. Generations is a powerful work of determination and affirmation. “I look at my husband,” Clifton writes, “and my children and I feel the Dahomey women gathering in my bones.”

Praise for Generations

"Impressive—honest, clear-eyed with a shapeliness natural to poets. . . . In addition to possessing the ease and intimacy of Clifton’s poetry, Generations speaks to, for, and from fictional and posthumous lives—Moses, Medgar Evers, Amazons, Bob Marley, Sleeping Beauty, etc. She is comfortable and knowing about the dead. . . . Lucille is another word for light, which is the soul of “enlightenment” And she knew it." —Toni Morrison

"Of great poets whose poems are kin to Clifton’s, I think of Emily Dickinson; to Dickinson’s intense compression Clifton adds explicit historical consciousness. And of Pablo Neruda: Clifton subtracts hyperbole from his elemental clarity." —Elizabeth Alexander, The New Yorker

"Lucille Clifton helped me hear things—helps all of those who love her work hear things that they would rather ignore." —Reginald Dwayne Betts

Joshua Bennett
Joshua Bennett

Joshua Bennett

Poet, performer, and scholar Joshua Bennett is the author of two collections of poetry, Owed and The Sobbing School, as well as a book of criticism, Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man. His first work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, is forthcoming from Knopf. He received his PhD in English from Princeton University, and is currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. His writing has been published in the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. In 2021, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Award in Poetry and Nonfiction. He lives in Boston.

Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry, including most recently Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A professor of creative writing at Princeton University, she lives in Princeton with her family.

Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

 

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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