An American Lyric
* Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry *
* Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism * Winner of the NAACP Image Award * Winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize * Winner of the PEN Open Book Award *
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, NPR. Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Slate, Time Out New York, Vulture, Refinery 29, and many more . . .
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Claudia Rankine’s acclaimed poetry collection analyzes what it means to be a person of color thrown against a sharp, white background. Citizen starts with a list of traumatic microaggressions before exploring many of the outrages of recent history, from the blatant rejection of Serena Williams’ Black body in a space traditionally reserved for the slim and white, to the killings of Trayvon Martin and Mark Duggan. With its masterful sense of pacing and striking language that switches from blunt to lyrical, Rankine’s book is a formidable testament to the necessity of literature in times of struggle.
In this trenchant new work about racism in the 21st century, Rankine, recently appointed chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and winner of the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, extends the innovative formal techniques and painfully clear-sighted vision she established in her landmark Don't Let Me Be Lonely. Accounts of racially charged interactions, insidious and flagrant, transpiring in private and in the public eye, distill the immediate emotional intensity of individual experience with tremendous precision while allowing ambiguity, ambivalence, contradiction, and exhaustion to remain in all their fraught complexity. Combining poetry, essay, and images from media and contemporary art, Rankine's poetics capture the urgency of her subject matter. Indeed, much of the book focuses on language: sound bites from cultural commentators; the words of acquaintances, colleagues, and friends; responses and moments of silence; what it means to address and be addressed; and what it means when one's only recourse is to sigh. "A body translates its you / you there, hey you," she writes, "The worst hurt is feeling you don't belong so much/ to you." Once again Rankine inspires sympathy and outrage, but most of all a will to take a deep look at ourselves and our society.
I will be honest, the style of writing left me ignorant may times but I was able to feel the author through these episodes. The stories leave one to support the presentations with stories or experiences of one’s own, as a cosign of sorts. Effective.
Moving & Heartbreaking
Wonderfully written. A devastating story of inequality and prejudice People of Color face in the United States. 10/10 would recommend.
Well written and thought provoking