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Honorary degree citation to Lucille Clifton (Doctor of Letters)
As poet, historian, children's author, memoirist, professor - you have, during the course of your career, never stopped learning and sharing. You declared as a teenager: "I can do what I want to do! I'm from Dahomey women!" Your life affirms this as demonstration not only declaration.
One of the foremost poets or our time, you are known for your spare, evocative lyrics and the searing honesty of your work. Your many books of poetry - beginning with Good Times in 1969, which The New York Times named as one of the best books that year, to Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, published in 2000 and the winner of the National Book Award, to your most recent work, Mercy - inspire and move us.
Born in the North, you understood that the South and Africa were part of who you are. By telling the stories about your past - both your own family history and also your wider African and African American heritage - you have helped tell all our stories, and by chronicling injustices and problems of our current world, you underline our obligations to each other. You have enriched and expanded our understanding, reminding us that "our lives are more than the days in them."
In recognition of all that you have done to make certain that "history doesn't go away" and that we learn well all of its lessons, Dartmouth is most pleased to present you with the degree Doctor of Letters.
- James Wright
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