Jan. 27 – The Office of the President presents “Nurturing the Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton” on Wednesday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) in the Daugherty-Palmer Commons. The event, co-sponsored by the VOICES Reading Series, is free of charge and open to the public. The evening will feature poetry readings and reflections to honor St. Mary’s College’s former Distinguished Professor of the Humanities Lucille Clifton.
Yona Harvey will receive the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award during the event. Harvey is an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of the poetry collection, “Hemming the Water,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University and finalist for the Hurston-Wright Award.
Harvey was nominated by Toi Derricotte. Derricotte is the author of “The Undertaker’s Daughter” and four earlier collections of poetry, including “Tender,” winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, “The Black Notebooks,” received the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Derricotte is the co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Both Harvey and Derricotte will perform original works of poetry during the event.
Two St. Mary’s College employees will receive the President’s Lucille Clifton Award: Raymond Raley, operations manager at the Campus Store, and Sybol Anderson, associate professor of philosophy. Nominated by seniors of the College, the President’s Lucille Clifton Award is given to employees who best embody the spirit of caring, compassion and nurturing that characterized Lucille Clifton’s tenure at the College.
Lucille Clifton was one of the most distinguished, decorated, and beloved poets of her time. She won the National Book Award for Poetry and was the first Black recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Her honors and awards give testament to the universality of her unique and resonant voice. In 1987, she became the first author to have two books of poetry— “Good Woman” and “Next”— chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in the same year. She was named a Literary Lion of New York Public Library in 1996, served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poetry and was elected a fellow in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 1,700 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary’s River in Southern Maryland.