In celebration of Lucille Clifton, Mentor & Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets wishes to compile an issue of craft-centric essays that honor Clifton’s work. We seek essays that explore Clifton’s poetic choices—her voice, diction, figurative language, allusions, music, subject, aesthetic, risks, and so on—and explore how her poetry has influenced your own poems and/or subsequent generations’ poems.
We envision—and are open to!—different approaches to the Clifton tribute. For example, one approach is to consider how one of her poems helped you better understand a specific poetic principle. Another approach is to interview someone who apprenticed with Clifton’s poetry, whose own poetic knowledge and inspiration arose from studying Clifton’s language and lines. Another approach is to consider what you learned from workshopping with Clifton, or how you introduce Clifton’s work to your own students. (Surprise us. We are excited to love—and learn from—Clifton further!)
Furthermore, we encourage potential contributors to begin where they are most compelled, with the Clifton poems that act as touchstones, poems that contributors return to again and again for inspiration, solace, and guidance. Please note that while we do not have a formal structure in mind, we seek essays that are more personal and creative than academic; essays that reveal the insights that we, as poets, gain from reading and studying Lucille Clifton; and essays that are geared toward poets who already possess an understanding of basic poetic elements, poets who wish to further their poetic knowledge.
And, because we believe that writers not only learn by reading and enjoying the work of other writers, but also through the application of what we learn, we encourage essayists to include a writing prompt that relates to their Clifton-inspired discussions and considerations.
For a better understanding of the Mentor & Muse project, please browse our featured and archived essays and interviews. Our first five issues contain essays from Jericho Brown, Patricia Clark, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Jennifer Franklin, A. Van Jordan, Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan, David Keplinger, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Sandy Solomon, Adrienne Su, and others, as well as interviews with Sean Hill, Matthew Olzmann, Shara McCallum, and Sarah Rose Nordgren.
To submit to the Clifton tribute, please email the editors. As we cannot cover reprinting costs, please select poems that are within the public domain or poems that can already be accessed online. While we occasionally print longer work, we suggest essays range from 750 to 2,500 words. Please query us with your questions about subject, style, or mode (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please submit your essays by November 1, 2019, for a February 13, 2020, publication date.
Thank you for your time and consideration—we look forward to reading your work!
—The Editors, Mentor & Muse
Photo credits: Featured image and close-up from 2000 taken by Mark Lennihan/AP. Group image from 1973 courtesy of Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.