Collects essays, poetry, and images that expose the racial tensions in twenty-first century life, highlighting the slights, slips of the tongue, and intentional offensives that pervade the home, school, and popular media. - (Baker & Taylor)
* 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.
- (Macmillan School
Rankine, winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, is playwright and essayist as well as poet, and all three forms are present in her second, galvanizing "American Lyric," following Don't Let Me Be Lonely (2004). In prose poems and poetic essays as sharp and stinging as a surprise slap to the face, Rankine matter-of-factly chronicles ordinary encounters poisoned by racism. Thoughtless and reflexive remarks and responses, such as a white therapist reacting with fear and aggression when a black client appears at her door. She also addresses, with fresh insights and precision, the adversities facing tennis star Serena Williams, presents a piece titled "Frisk and Search," and offers deeply resonant tributes to those felled by racial violence, including Trayvon Martin. In poems of solitary reflection, despair, and conviction, the speaker considers the eloquence of sighs and rejects the directive, "Let it go." Accompanied by evocative images, Rankine's arrestingly forthright, emotionally authentic, and artistically lithe inquiry induces us to question and protest every racial assault against our individual and collective humanity. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
A prism of personal perspectives illuminates a poet's meditations on race.Like a previous volume, Don't Let Me Be Lonely (2004), Rankine (English/Pomona Coll.) subtitles this book An American Lyric, which serves as an attempt to categorize the unclassifiable. Some of this might look like poetry, but more often there are short anecdotes or observations, pieces of visual art and longer selections credited as "Script for Situation video created in collaboration with John Lucas." Yet the focus throughout is on how it feels and what it means to be black in America. It builds from an accretion of slights (being invisible, ignored or called by the name of a black colleague) and builds toward the killing of Trayvon Martin and the video-gone-viral beating of Rodney King. "A similar accumulation and release drove many Americans to respond to the Rodney King beating," she writes. "Before it happened, it had happened and happened." Rankine is particularly insightful about Serena Williams, often criticized for displays of anger that the author justifies as responses to racism, conscious or not. "For Serena," she writes, "the daily diminishment is a low flame, a constant drip. Every look, every comment, every bad call blossoms out of history, through her, onto you." The author's anger is cathartic, for her and perhaps for readers, though she shows how it can be strategic as well: She refers to an artist's "wryly suggesting black people's anger is marketable," while proposing that "on the bridge between this sellable anger and ‘the artist' resides, at times, an actual anger." Within what are often very short pieces or sections, with lots of white space on the page, Rankine more effectively sustains a feeling and establishes a state of being than advances an argument. At times, she can be both provocative and puzzling—e.g., "It is the White Man who creates the black man. But it is the black man who creates." Frequently powerful, occasionally opaque. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry, this follow up to Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric brings together essays, images, and poems on the stress of citizenship in a deeply racist country.
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
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. (Oct.)
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