The Office of the President presents “Nurturing the Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton” on Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.) in 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.
Sonia Sanchez and Ashley M. Jones will perform original works of poetry during the event.
Sonia Sanchez is one of America’s most acclaimed writers. She has published 12 books of poetry, seven plays and three books for children. Treasured not only for her poetry, but also for her outspoken advocacy of women and minorities, Sanchez was a major influence in the Black Arts and Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. She was an active member in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as well as the Nation of Islam which she left in protest of their mistreatment of women. She continues to advocate for the rights of oppressed women and minority groups. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, most recently, she is the recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Ashley M. Jones received an MFA in poetry from Florida International University. Her poems have received numerous recognitions including a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. She was an editor of PANK magazine, and her debut poetry collection, “Magic City Gospel,” won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her second book, “dark // thing,” won the 2018 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is a faculty member in the creative writing department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
Mary Johnston, operations/customer service coordinator for the physical plant, will receive the President’s Lucille Clifton Award. Nominated by senior students, faculty and staff 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.