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An American Lyric

eBook - 2014
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* 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 *

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.


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Found Poetry

By FPL_Adam There are many types of found poetry. One of the most rewarding is blackout erasure poetry. The challenge with this form is to find your voice and an idea that is hiding in an existing text. You begin with a page of found text. Compose by selecting words to save. Finally “erase” by covering up all but a few select words. Not only will you create a poem with this process, but also… (more)

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Apr 28, 2021

visceral, very much so. and the poetry is filled with much breathe. Rankine delves into the nuances of racism and microaggressions and how that plays out in the modern world– pulling from the experiences of athletes to her own. and the amount of emotional labor poured into this... (which is already more than we deserve...) which is to say, thank you Rankine for allowing us these words. i suspect i will be reading again in the future and more Rankine as well.

Dec 29, 2020

Citizen, written by acclaimed author Claudia Rankine, is a stirring poetic novel containing a variety of short stories documenting the presence and influence of racism in everyday American lives, as well as in major world-stage events. It documents the journeys of an unnamed Black protagonist as she goes around her normal life and begins to notice the small inherently racist things that have popped up everywhere, one instance being her friend accidentally calling her by the name of that friend's (also Black) housekeeper.
This book is very meaningful and is a great way to delve into the meaning behind what is happening in our world today. Despite being written nearly 7 years ago, it is still especially relevant in this era in American history.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out more about the racial conflicts and tension that are currently taking place. It's a long read, but worth the time to get through it completely.

Oct 24, 2020

Subtle yet moving book about all the aggressions against black people and how that they add up and affect the psyche. As the book progresses the aggressions are not so subtle. Visuals are effectively interwoven. Agreed, a must read for all people esp those that don't get or aren't on board "BLM".

Jun 25, 2020

Read this in one sitting. I hurt in the pit of my stomach.

The book was released in 2014 -- a mere crawl of time to now -- yet still sharp, sharp, sharp.

We still have such a long way to go.

Oct 23, 2019

Writing on race inspired by Black Lives Matter, day to day encounters and popular figures, including Serena Williams.

Intense. Interestingly assembled. Well worth reading. On many ‘must read’ lists. Published by Minnesota’s own Graywolf Press!

Hillsboro_EmilyS Jan 02, 2019

Poetic and vivid-- this book displays how micro aggressions contribute to blatant racial oppression, and the toll this takes on the individual. A must read for every American citizen.

Oct 29, 2018

I'm not sure exactly how to classify Claudia Rankine's "Citizen: An American Lyric." The Jamaican-born Rnkine is a poet, and the New Yorker called it "a book-length poem about race and the imagination." Yet it feels more like a collage: vignettes, observations, phrases, visuals, and mediations on everything from Serena Williams to a Turner painting. It's certainly unique. While the cover seems to be a reference to the Trayvon Martin killing, the artwork was made in 1993. Finalist for the Nation Book Award.
New Yorker review:

JCLAyahA Mar 12, 2018

This book is so adept at conveying the racial psyche that it's objectively an excellent book on the human psyche as a whole. Behind the fragments, incidents and artwork, there's a synthesis present that lets you into the experience of an individual, but it also feels universal and worldly. It's nice to find all three perspectives present in a discussion about racism. On a personal level, I found that this book also bring a voice to the experience of sexism. It's a difficult book to describe; you have to experience it. It lets you in on what it really means to live in a society that is not built for you, that is built for those that might relish having power over you. It articulates the fatigue behind those who have personal stakes in social justice, and the psychological confusion that comes from enduring daily, institutionally condoned aggression directed at oneself-and at a collective. And it does all this without relying on a dichotomous "us/them" framework, which is interesting from both a social and formalist point of view. Just an objectively good book all around.

Jan 22, 2018

Required reading

vm510 Nov 30, 2017

This collection does a lot and does it beautifully through prose, poetry, and photographs. Rankine describes slights and microaggresions she and people she knows have experienced. She writes about Serena Williams' career and the racism she has faced from referees and spectators (probably my favorite piece in the entire book). She writes about national news events and history - many which occurred in the early-to-mid 2000s including the Jena Six, James Craig Anderson, and Zinedine Zidane.

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Apr 28, 2021

... I don't know how to end what doesn't have an ending.

Apr 28, 2021

"The purpose of art," James Baldwin wrote, "is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers." He might have been channeling Dostoyevsky's statement that "we have all the answers. It is the questions we do not know."

Apr 28, 2021

In a landscape drawn from an ocean bed, you can't drive yourself sane– so angry you are crying. You can't drive yourself sane. This motion wears a guy out. Our motion is wearing you out and still you are not that guy.

Apr 28, 2021

The sigh is the pathway to breath; it allows breathing. That's just self-preservation. No one fabricates that. You sit down, you sigh. You stand up, you sigh. The sighing is a worrying exhale of an ache. You wouldn't call it an illness; still it is not the iteration of a free being. What else to liken yourself to but an animal, the ruminant kind?


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