My Week in Literary References: Lucille Clifton & F. Scott Fitzgerald

This week I enjoyed two events: one a tribute to the late poet Lucille Clifton and the other, an evening wedding reception in an arboretum (botanical garden for trees) evoking a Gatsby-esque vibe. I attended the Lucille Clifton tribute on Thursday evening at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library (Baltimore’s public library system). The tribute consisted of 13 poets, one of which was the always vibrant Nikki Giovanni, reading Lucille Clifton’s works and/or their original pieces that fit the occasion; all provided personal memories of their interactions with her. While I admittedly am not really an avid reader of poetry and therefore am not more familiar with her work, I am well aware of the impact Lucille Clifton has had on the lives of those who enjoy reading and/or writing poetry. I’m ashamed to say I can’t even tell you the name of any of her books or pull a line from a poem. In fact, I learned the most about Lucille Clifton from this tribute and from my mother who has always enjoyed her work. Initially I was ashamed to share this information because I didn’t want to look like an idiot but then I thought ‘so what’, it doesn’t matter whatsoever if I’m not more familiar with Lucille Clifton’s poetry, rather, I’m so glad I was invited to this event because now I get to broaden my horizon and introduce another author into the fold of those I hold dear like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, Amy Tan, and Toure just to name a few. All I know is I left that event on Thursday night and felt emotionally full, all my cares from earlier in the work day fell away and I sucked up every single tribute inhaling what has become for me the rarified air that is being in an environment of artistic expression and observance and a warmth also known as a feeling of support.


So now Saturday I’m in a whole other physical environment, an elegant evening wedding reception in a clearing surrounded by gardens; like the Lucille Clifton event this garden party was full of interesting people who clearly were artistically inspired and who had a genuine interest in all of the people around them. The simplicity of the decorations combined with the gorgeous attention to details like the flower arrangements, hand fans for the ladies, and the candy bar made for a fantasy-like evening. Looking out across the lawn as the sun set the ‘Gatsby-esque’ vibe I described earlier came to fruition…I don’t know if anyone else felt like this and I’m not sure that the bride and groom were going for the ‘Great Gatsby’ look but it’s what I felt as I looked across the wide open space at the old mansion (now visitor center) guarded by two stone lions, one was violated by plastic lips stuffed into its stone mouth. I haven’t read ‘The Great Gatsby’ in awhile but this wedding event made me want to revisit this book that I first picked up in high school and loved so much. In fact it’s time to re-read to clarify the story again as I focused so much on the descriptions of the party scenes that I almost forget there was a darker story there.


This week has been absolutely wonderful which is something I surely needed to revisit just now as I head into the work week; I had to recap so I can come back to this post and conjure how I felt at the time and remain grateful (remember my blog post about avoiding negativity?) for the life I have and the people in it who make it that much better. Due to my sparkling wine and candy binge last night combined with the need for a nap I’m signing off. Enjoy your Sunday.

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