Michelle Cliff

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Michelle Cliff (born 24 October 1946) is a Jamaican-American author whose notable works include No Telephone to Heaven, Abeng, and Free Enterprise.

Cliff also has written short stories, prose poems, and works of criticism. Her works explore the various, complex identity problems that stem from post-colonialism, as well as the difficulty of establishing an authentic, individual identity despite race and gender constructs. Cliff is a bisexual who grew up in the violently homophobic, poverty-stricken, colonized island of Jamaica. Since 1976 she has lived with poet Adrienne Rich.

She was educated at Wagner College and the Warburg Institute at the University of London. She has held academic positions at several colleges including Trinity College and Emory University.

As of 1999, Cliff was living in Santa Cruz, California,[1] with her partner, poet Adrienne Rich. The two have been living together since 1976.[2]


  • 1 Works
    • 1.1 Fiction
    • 1.2 Prose poetry
    • 1.3 Editor
    • 1.4 Other
  • 2 For further reading
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links



  • 1998: The Store of a Million Items short stories (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company)
  • 1993: Free Enterprise, novel (New York: Dutton)
  • 1990: Bodies of Water, short stories (New York: Dutton)
  • 1987: No Telephone to Heaven, novel, a sequel to Abeng (New York: Dutton)
  • 1985: Abeng, novel (New York: Penguin)

Prose poetry

  • The Land of Look Behind and Claiming
  • 1980:Identity They Taught Me to Despise


  • 1982: Lillian Smith, The Winner Names the Age: A Collection of Writings, (New York: Norton)


  • 1994: "History as Fiction, Fiction as History", Ploughshares Fall, 1994; 20(2-3): 196-202
  • 1990: "Object into Subject: Some Thoughts on the Work of Black Women's Artists," in Gloria Anzaldua, ed. Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color, San Francisco: Aunt Lute, pp. 271-290.

For further reading

  • Cartelli, Thomas (1995) "After the Tempest: Shakespeare, Postcoloniality, and Michelle Cliff's New, New World Miranda," Contemporary Literature 36(1): 82-102
  • Edmondson, Belinda (1993) "Race, Writing, and the Politics of (Re)Writing History: An Analysis of the Novels of Michelle Cliff," Callaloo 16(1): 180-191
  • Lima, Maria Helena (1993) "Revolutionary Developments: Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven and Merle Collins's Angel," Ariel 24(1): 35-56
  • Lionnet, Francoise (1992) "Of Mangoes and Maroons: Language, History, and the Multicultural Subject of Michelle Cliff's Abeng," in Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, eds. De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women's Autobiography, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 321-345
  • Raiskin, Judith (1994) "Inverts and Hybrids: Lesbian Rewritings of Sexual and Racial Identities," in Laura Doan, ed. The Lesbian Postmodern, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 156-172
  • Raiskin, Judith (1993) "The Art of History: An Interview with Michelle Cliff," Kenyon Review 15(1): 57-71
  • Schwartz, Meryl F. (1993) "An Interview with Michelle Cliff," Contemporary Literature 34(4): 595-619
  1. ^ "Michelle Cliff" at Emory University
  2. ^ "Adrienne Rich, 1929-", a time line, credited as "Page by Chelsea Hoffman, Fall 1999", at the Drew University Women's Studies Program Web site
  • Michelle Cliff Web page at National Chiao Tung University Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures Web site
  • An interview with Michelle Cliff, 2002
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