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  • NYS Writers Institute

Poetry Friday: "i am running into a new year" by Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), who grew up near Buffalo, was an American poet, historian, children's author, and professor. The two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist visited the NYS Writers Institute for a reading during our early years.


i am running into a new year

By Lucille Clifton


i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back

like a wind

that i catch in my hair

like strong fingers like

all my old promises and

it will be hard to let go

of what i said to myself

about myself

when i was sixteen and

twenty-six and thirty-six

even thirty-six but

i am running into a new year

and i beg what i love and

i leave to forgive me


Published in Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980


Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton was born in 1936 in DePew, Erie County, and grew up in Buffalo. She studied at Howard University before transferring to SUNY Fredonia, near her hometown.


She was discovered as a poet by Langston Hughes (via Ishmael Reed, who shared her poems), and Hughes published Clifton's poetry in his highly influential anthology, The Poetry of the Negro (1970). In 1988, Clifton became the first author to have two books of poetry named finalists for one year's Pulitzer Prize.


(photo credit: Mark Lennihan/AP)

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