The Clifton House
Poets & Writers Magazine|November - December 2020
The Clifton House
On the ninth anniversary of poet Lucille Clifton’s death, her eldest daugh-ter, Sidney Clifton, felt a strong desire to be back in her family’s former home in Baltimore. She decided to call the owner, who told her the house had been put up for sale that very day, February 13, 2019. A reunion with the house seemed fated, and Sidney Clifton jumped at the chance to buy her childhood home. Soon the space will once again be filled with the energy and cheerful noise of artists at work and in conversation as the poet’s family develops the Clifton House as a place where new generations of artists can flourish.

In 1968, Lucille Clifton and her husband, Fred, a professor and activist, bought the house at 2605 Talbot Road and moved in with their six children. It was there that Lucille Clifton launched her prolific poetry career. Her first collection, Good Times (Random House, 1969), was published a year after the family moved in; Good News About the Earth (Random House, 1972) and An Ordinary Woman (Random House, 1974) followed soon thereafter. While living at the house, she wrote countless poems, a memoir, and children’s books, earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970 and 1973, and began her term as poet laureate of Maryland in 1979.

The Clifton family lived in the house in the Windsor Hills neighborhood for almost eleven years before they lost the home to foreclosure. Buying the house last year was profoundly meaningful for Sidney, because with both parents and two of her siblings gone, the years they shared there represent a moment when her entire family was alive and together, happy and whole.


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November - December 2020