Analysis Of Claudia Rankine's Citizen : An American Lyric

1099 WordsSep 6, 20175 Pages
A finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” is audacious in form. But what is perhaps especially striking about the book is that it has achieved something that eludes much modern poetry: urgency. “Citizen” is both insistently topical, with references to Trayvon Martin and stop-and-frisk police tactics, and concerned with intimate moments when racial impasses spring up between friends and colleagues. Stylistically, it takes readers on a ride over varied terrain, going from verse to prose to visual images by artists like Carrie Mae Weems and Glenn Ligon, whose work is often grounded in wordplay and social commentary. These deliberate collisions, Ms. Rankine said, help “to create openness…show more content…
Ms. Glück, who won for “Faithful and Virtuous Night,” has championed Ms. Rankine’s work and was an inspiration for her own path, Ms. Rankine said. Ms. Glück, in a telephone interview from her home in Cambridge, Mass., a few days after the awards ceremony, recalled Ms. Rankine as “a phenomenal student.” “She spoke always with such boldness and accuracy and intensity,” Ms. Glück said. Ms. Rankine said that while she would have liked to have won the award, “I wasn’t waiting to be chosen — you don’t write with the freedom that I do if that’s what is on your mind.” “Citizen” reflects issues and feelings that have long been on the mind of Ms. Rankine, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved with her family to New York when she was 7. Her father found work as a hospital orderly, and her mother as a nurse’s aide. Bookish as a child, Ms. Rankine earned a literature degree at Williams and went on to get an M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia. She wanted to write poetry, she said, though pursuing it was a leap of faith for someone who grew up with the notion of needing a steady job. Poetry and teaching paid off, though, and Ms. Rankine said she began to find her voice in her second and third books, “The End of the Alphabet” (1998) and “Plot” (2001), which looked “at the dynamic of words within words, the multiplicity of meanings within words.” Her experimental, hybrid style emerged with her fourth collection, “Don’t Let

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