In 2001, Clifton won the National Book Award for "Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000."
She was also the first black woman to win the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize award, in 2007, among the most prestigious awards that can be won by an American poet. It included a $100,000 stipend.
"I like the short, distinctive music that the poems make," Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and one of the three judges who selected the winner, told the Baltimore Sun in 2007. "It's admirable how simple and clear the surfaces are. But when you study her best poems, they keep opening into depths of complexity."
Clifton, who published 11 poetry collections and more than 20 children's books, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1988.
Clifton was the second woman and the first black person to be the poet laureate of Maryland, a position she held from 1979 to 1985. She also was poet-in-residence at Coppin State College from 1971 to 1974.
Labor lawyer, activist dies
Beth Shulman, a labor lawyer and author who championed the rights and welfare of low-wage earners, died Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C. She was 60 and had been diagnosed last fall with a malignant brain tumor.
"Beth was a visionary, activist, strategist
and chronicler on behalf of workers throughout her career," said Kathy Bonk, executive director of Communications Consortium/DC, a public interest media group that collaborated with Shulman on the Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Work, a combined effort by 20 nonprofit organizations.
Shulman was the author of "The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans," published in 2003 by New Press.
Marshaling a blizzard of statistics and anecdotes collected on her travels across the country, she argued that janitors, hotel maids, security guards, nursing aides and other low-wage workers have reasonably high skills and intelligence and deserve greater respect.
In the book and numerous public appearances, Shulman also argued that minimum-wage jobs have become minimum-wage careers, dead ends that consign workers to permanent poverty.
The book earned some major notices, including one by Anna Quindlen in Newsweek, who called it "a damning new book that should be required reading for every presidential candidate and member of Congress."
Shulman in 1976 joined the legal staff of the 1.4-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents supermarket and clerical workers, and served for 13 years as a vice president.
She was a senior analyst with the Russell Sage Foundation and served on the boards of several organizations, including the National Employment Law Project board, which she led.
Costume designer dies
Robert Turturice, a Hollywood costume designer who won an Emmy Award for his work on the 1980s hit television series "Moonlighting" and whose movie credits include "Batman & Robin" and "Big Top p*e-wee," died Dec. 15 in Los Angeles. He was 60.
Turturice was a former president of the Costume Designers Guild.
Demi Moore, Bette Midler, Tess Harper, Cybill Shepherd, Loni Anderson and Christine Baranski were among the actresses who wore Turturice's gowns to Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe ceremonies.
When the Costume Designers Guild presents a posthumous Hall of Fame Award to Turturice on Feb. 25 at the guild's awards ceremony, Anderson will accept it on his behalf.
"He was so extremely creative and such a lovely man," Anderson, who worked with Turturice on numerous TV series, films and TV movies, told the Los Angeles Times this week. "Everybody adored him."
That includes Paul Reubens, aka p*e-wee Herman, for whom Turturice designed costumes not only for "Big Top p*e-wee," but also for TV's "p*e-wee's Playhouse" and "p*e-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special." "He was a great and very talented — and a very nice — man," Reubens told The Times.
"Besides the fact I think he's awesome as a costume designer, the challenges he had on my circus movie were just incredible. We had a full set of farm animals and circus animals that needed to be costumed," he said. "He did an amazing job."
Among the other films Turturice worked on during his four-decade career as a costume designer were "Clean and Sober," "Say Anything," "Beaches" and "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas."
For television, he worked on 31 movies of the week, 19 series, 15 specials and 27 pilots. Among the series: "Cybill," "Partners in Crime," "Sisters," "Bette," "Arli$$," "JAG" and "Bosom Buddies."
A multi-Emmy nominee, including nominations for his work on the HBO movie "Gia" and for "Cybill," he won his Emmy for "Moonlighting" in 1987.
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