Claudia Rankine

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Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine 14.jpg
Born 1963
Occupation Professor
Nationality American
Alma mater Williams College;
Columbia University
Genre Poetry; Playwright

Claudia Rankine is a Jamaican poet and playwright born in 1963 and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and New York City. She has taught at Case Western Reserve University, Barnard College, University of Georgia, and in the writing program at the University of Houston. As of 2011, Rankine is the Henry G. Lee Professor of Poetry at Pomona College.

Life and work[edit]

Educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Rankine's work has appeared in many journals, including the Southern Review, AGNI, the Kenyon Review, and anthologies including On the Verge and Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (2000). She also co-edited (with Juliana Spahr) the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language.

Winner of an Academy of American Poets fellowship, Rankine's work Don't Let Me Be Lonely (2004), an experimental project, has been acclaimed for its unique blend of poetry, essay, lyric and TV imagery. About this volume, poet Robert Creeley wrote: “Claudia Rankine here manages an extraordinary melding of means to effect the most articulate and moving testament to the bleak times we live in I’ve yet seen. It’s master work in every sense, and altogether her own.” [1]

"There are billions of souls in the world and some of us are almost to be touching the depths of how it is and what it is to be human. On the surface we exist but just beyond is existence. I write to articulate that felt experience. My first book of poems, Nothing in Nature is Private, existed in the experience of Black, Jamaican, person, woman in a bruised world [...] I think sometimes I am too private, too lonely in my heart, but my mind rows constantly as if involved in a public disturbance. When poet Paul Celan writes “pray Lord, pray to us, we are near,” I feel he speaks of me and I with him in talking to God. There are some of us who are constantly mending our hearts, I write into that mending, my writing is that mending. Anyway, here I am, Claudia Rankine, born in Jamaica, in 1963, here is my art."

Claudia Rankine [2]

Rankine's play, The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, was a 2011 Distinguished Development Project Selection in the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage.[3] Also of note, Rankine devotes time to work on documentary multimedia pieces with her husband, photographer John Lucas.[4] In 2013, Rankine was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.[5]

About her work, the poet Mark Doty said, "Claudia Rankine’s formally inventive poems investigate many kinds of boundaries: the unsettled territory between poetry and prose, between the word and the visual image, between what it’s like to be a subject and the ways we’re defined from outside by skin color, economics, and global corporate culture. This fearless poet extends American poetry in invigorating new directions." [6]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Nothing in Nature Is Private, Cleveland State University Press, 1994.
  • The End of the Alphabet, Grove Press, 1998.
  • Plot, Grove Press, 2001.
  • Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2004.
  • Citizen: An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2014.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pomona College Magazine online: news release
  2. ^ Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature page at African American Literature Book Club site <>
  3. ^ "The Bollingen Prize for Poetry 2011 Winner". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  4. ^ UTSA hosts creative writing, reading series
  5. ^ Academy of American Poets Names New Chancellors: Marilyn Nelson, Claudia Rankine, and C. D. Wright
  6. ^

External links[edit]