Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is writing the life story of acclaimed poet Lucille Clifton.
Jeffers made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “I am so very pleased [and] honored to announce that I will be writing the biography of the great poet, Lucille Clifton, to be published by [Alfred A. Knopf] in 2026.”
I am so very pleased honored to announce that I will be writing the biography of the great poet, Lucille Clifton, to be published by @AAKnopf in 2026. My editor will be the wonderful @FreemanReads . Thank always you my amazing agent @sarahburnes of @TheGernertCo . pic.twitter.com/MJb9QHC4Q5— Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (@BlkLibraryGirl) September 27, 2021
Jeffers made a splash in the literary world last month with the publication of her debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. The novel shot up the bestseller charts after Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club; it was named a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award.
Jeffers’ biography of Clifton, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who died in 2010, will be her seventh book, following The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois and five poetry collections.
In an interview with the Boston Globe published last week, Jeffers said Clifton is among the poets she reads the most.
“People mistakenly believe that her work is not complex,” she said. “Have you ever had a croissant from a good bakery? You start to pull it apart and it has these layers. That’s the way a Lucille Clifton poem is.”
Jeffers also explored Clifton’s work in an essay for the Poetry Foundation, writing, “Miss Lucille showed me my history, my Sankofa, my Africa that I tried to repudiate, until the ancestors began to scold me. They knew what I needed. She knew too. And though she had passed away, I tried to pull her back to me. She has been my ancestor for 10 years, and still, I reach for her poems. I continue to reach for her waters.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.