The Office of the President presents “Nurturing the Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton” on Saturday, February 29 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) in Auerbach Auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall. 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.
Naomi Shihab Nye and Danusha Laméris will perform original works of poetry during the event.
Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, including “The Tiny Journalist” (BOA Editions, 2019); “Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners” (Greenwillow Books, 2018); “Transfer” (BOA Editions, 2011); “You and Yours” (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; and “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East” (Greenwillow Books, 2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East.
Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and reviews throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia for the United States Information Agency three times, promoting international goodwill through the arts.
Danusha Laméris’s first book of poems, “The Moons of August” (2014), won the 2013 Autumn House Press poetry contest. She was born in Massachusetts and raised in California. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at University of California, Santa Cruz and studied at the Squaw Valley Writers Workshops and with the poet Ellen Bass.
Laméris’s poems have been published in Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The SUN Magazine and Rattle, among other journals. Her work has also been included in the anthologies “Intimate Kisses,” “A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens,” and “In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare.” She lives in Santa Cruz, where she teaches private poetry workshops.
Lee Capristo, director of publications, and Janna Thompson, assistant professor of educational studies, will both 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.