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Lucille Clifton published her first book of poetry in 1969. How has she kept her writing fresh after almost four decades? She’s never stopped insisting on telling it like it is. The former Maryland poet laureate is known for writing about both the African-American experience and the female experience with a shocking honesty. Take “Homage to My Hips,” a celebration of the female body that ends with these lines: “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.” And then there’s “Wishes for Sons,” which outlines a wish uncommon of most mothers for their boys: “I wish them cramps./I wish them a strange town/And the last tampon./I wish them no 7-11.” That’s about as real as it gets, and she’ll bring that rawness in person when she reads her poems, as well as some of her favorites by others.

CLIFTON READS FROM HER WORK AT 7:30 P.M. AT THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, 201 E. CAPITOL ST. SE. $12. (202) 544-7077.