Reading: Homage To My Hips by Lucille Clifton

Lucile Clifton (1936-2010) was poet laureate of Maryland from 1979-1985. She was a prolific and widely respected author. Her writing style is sober and she was mainly concerned with the African American experience. Two of her works were simultaneously nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. I read a poem that I, if you allow me, find hip:

Homage To My Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

I like this kind of simple and playful poetry. In my mind, and I say this at the risk of mansplaining, it says and does more for the emancipation of woman than many an academic study. Big hips, the Venus figurines (not the Venus of Milo), the quintessence of fertility, fecundity, unbarrenness.

She is acquainted to her hips, that ‘spin a man like a top’, round and round, so he doesn’t fall over. It’s a keen image, the man who is being spun. He works so hard his texture becomes unreadable and spins and spins, but never out of control. At least, not her control, the control of her mighty, magic hips.

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