International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278

Full Length Research Paper

"Grief for what is human, grief for what is not": An Ecofeminist Insight into the Poetry of Lucille Clifton

Abdel Mohsen Ibrahim Hashim
  • Abdel Mohsen Ibrahim Hashim
  • Department of English, Faculty of Arts, The New Valley, Assiut University, Egypt.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 08 July 2014
  •  Accepted: 21 August 2014
  •  Published: 31 October 2014


This paper seeks to present an understanding of Lucille Clifton's poetry through the theory of ecofeminism that finds a connection between the exploitation of nature and the oppression of women. According to ecofeminists, among all the human groups threatened by the devastation of the environment, women in particular are exposed to the greatest dangers. This can be seen in the births of deformed babies, miscarriages due to radioactive waste, and serious health problems affecting the woman, the family, and society in general. Some ecofeminists have even gone further asserting that women have a greater appreciation of the connection between nature and humanity. Accordingly, this keen awareness which makes women more attentive than others to ecological problems nominates them to speak for the environment and defend it against abuse and mistreatment. As a woman whose roots go back to Africa, Clifton depicts nature in her poetry as being oppressed in the same sense that both women and African people have been subjugated. Thus, she connects nature to history showing how the environment, women, blacks, the colonized, the poor, and children are exploited and dominated. What Clifton yearns for in her poetry is a community born out of love rather than of oppression. Therefore, she calls on all voices of the community to be recognized and heard.  Through an ecofeminst lens, this paper finds that Clifton weaves into her poetry an insight that acknowledges the interconnection of all living entities on earth and emphasizes that each being, whether human or nonhuman, has a purpose to fulfill in the world.

Key words: Clifton, ecofeminst, grief, human, insight, poetry.