Claudia Rankine

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Claudia Rankine
Rankine in 2016
Rankine in 2016
Born (1963-09-15) September 15, 1963 (age 57)[1]
Kingston, Jamaica
Alma mater
GenrePoetry; Playwright
Notable awardsMacArthur Fellow
SpouseJohn Lucas

Claudia Rankine (/ˈræŋkɪn/; born September 15, 1963[1]) is an American poet, essayist, playwright, and the editor of several anthologies. She is the author of five volumes of poetry, two plays, and various essays.

Her book of poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric, won the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award,[2] the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award[3] in Poetry (the first book in the award's history to be nominated in both poetry and criticism), the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, the 2015 NAACP Image Award in poetry, the 2015 PEN Open Book Award, the 2015 PEN American Center USA Literary Award, the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2015 VIDA Literary Award. Citizen was also a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize. It is the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.

Rankine's numerous awards and honors include the 2014 Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, and the 2014 Lannan Foundation Literary Award. In 2005, she was awarded the Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets. She is a 2016 United States Artist Zell Fellow and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow.

Rankine previously taught at Pomona College. As of 2018, she is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.[4] In 2013, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.[5]

Life and work[edit]

Rankine was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and educated at Williams College and Columbia University. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Harper's, GRANTA, the Kenyon Review, and the Lana Turner Journal. She co-edits (with Lisa Sewell) the anthology series 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 television imagery. Of 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."[6]

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.[7]

In 2014, Graywolf Press published her book of poetry Citizen: An American Lyric.[8]

"Not long ago you are in a room where someone asks the philosopher Judith Butler what makes language hurtful. You can feel everyone lean in. Our very being exposes us to the address of another, she answers. We suffer from the condition of being addressable. Our emotional openness, she adds, is carried by our addressability. Language navigates this. For so long you thought the ambition of racist language was to denigrate and erase you as a person. After considering Butler's remarks you begin to understand yourself as rendered hyper-visible in the face of such language acts. Language that feels hurtful is intended to exploit all the ways that you are present. Your alertness, your openness, your desire to engage actually demand your presence, your looking up, your talking back as insane as it is, saying please."

Claudia Rankine[9]

Rankine also works on documentary multimedia pieces with her husband, photographer and filmmaker John Lucas. These video essays are titled Situations.

Of her work, poet Mark Doty wrote, "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."[10]

She additionally founded and curates the Racial Imaginary Institute, which Rankine called "a moving collaboration with other collectives, spaces, artists, and organizations towards art exhibitions, readings, dialogues, lectures, performances, and screenings that engage the subject of race."[11]

In 2017, Rankine collaborated with choreographer and performer Will Rawls to generate the work What Remains. Collaborators included Tara Aisha Willis, Jessica Pretty, Leslie Cuyjet, and Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste.[12] The work premiered at Bard College, and has been performed at national venues, including Danspace in New York, the Walker Art Center, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art Warehouse Space. In an interview with Rawls, Rankine described how text and language were manipulated in the performance: "As a writer, you spend a lot of time trying to get all of these words to communicate a feeling or to communicate an action, and to be able to get rid of the words but still hold the feeling was stunning to me."[13]

The Racial Imaginary Institute[edit]

The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII) is an interdisciplinary collective established in 2017 by Rankine using funds from her 2016 MacArthur Grant.[14][15] TRII is a think tank for artists and writers who study whiteness and examine race as a construct.[16][17] Its mission is to convene "a cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place are engaged, read, countered, contextualized and demystified."[18]

Rankine envisions the organization as occupying a physical space in Manhattan;[19] until that is possible, the institute is roving.[16] In 2017, the Whitney Museum presented "Perspectives on Race and Representation: An Evening With the Racial Imaginary Institute" to address the debate sparked by Dana Schutz’s painting "Open Casket."[17][20] In the summer of 2018, TRII presented "On Whiteness," an exhibition, symposium, library, residencies, and performances, at The Kitchen in New York.[21][22][23]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Nothing in Nature is Private. Cleveland St U Poetry Cntr. 1994. ISBN 978-1-880834-09-1.
  • Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2004. ISBN 9781555974077
  • The End of the Alphabet, Grove Press, 1998; The End of the Alphabet. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. December 1, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8021-9853-2.
  • Plot, Grove Press, 2001; Plot. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. December 1, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8021-9852-5.
  • Citizen: An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-55597-348-3
  • The White Card: A Play, Graywolf Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-55597-839-6
  • Just Us: An American Conversation, Allen Lane, 2020, ISBN 9780241467107

See also[edit]

American poetryCaribbean literatureCaribbean poetry


  1. ^ a b Rankine, Claudia. "The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning". The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Carolyn Kellogg (April 18, 2015). "The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are ..."
  3. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Winners for Publishing Year 2014", Critical Mass, March 12, 2015.
  4. ^ "Claudia Rankine | English". Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  5. ^ "Claudia Rankine ""
  6. ^ Pomona College Magazine online Archived May 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine: news release.
  7. ^ "The Bollingen Prize for Poetry 2011 Winner". Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  8. ^ Dan Chiasson, "Colour Codes", The New Yorker, October 27, 2014.
  9. ^ Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature page at African American Literature Book Club site.
  10. ^ Claudia Rankine at
  11. ^ Rankine, Claudia (February 12, 2001). "Claudia Rankine". Claudia Rankine. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  12. ^ Studio, Familiar (April 2, 2019). "Tara Aisha Willis, Leslie Cuyjet, Jess Pretty, and". Movement Research. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  13. ^ "Claudia Rankine and Will Rawls Interview, 2018".
  14. ^ Charlton, Lauretta (January 19, 2017). "Claudia Rankine's Home for the Racial Imaginary". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Cornum, Lou (July 23, 2018). "How Whiteness Works: The Racial Imaginary Institute at the Kitchen". Art in America. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "New World Disorder: Claudia Rankine". Artforum. March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Greenberger, Alex (March 30, 2017). "Whitney Museum to Partner with Claudia Rankine's Racial Imaginary Institute for Discussion About Dana Schutz Controversy". ARTnews. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "The Racial Imaginary Institute". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  19. ^ Thrasher, Steven W. (October 19, 2016). "Claudia Rankine: why I'm spending $625,000 to study whiteness". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  20. ^ "Perspectives on Race and Representation: An Evening With the Racial Imaginary Institute". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Wong, Ryan (July 24, 2018). "How to Talk About Whiteness". Hyperallergic. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Landesberg, Paige (September 26, 2018). "To Watch and Be Watched". THE SEEN | Chicago's International Online Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  23. ^ "The Kitchen: On Whiteness: Exhibition". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  24. ^ Rankine, Claudia (February 12, 2001). "Claudia Rankine". Claudia Rankine. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. January 19, 2015. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  26. ^ Alexandra Alter (March 12, 2015). "'Lila' Honored as Top Fiction by National Book Critics Circle". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  27. ^ "84th Annual California Book Awards Winners". Commonwealth Club.
  28. ^ "Claudia Rankine Wins $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize", Poets & Writers, April 21, 2014.
  29. ^ "2015 PEN Literary Award Winners". PEN. May 8, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  30. ^ Carolyn Kellogg, "Claudia Rankine and Meghan Daum lead 2015 PEN Literary Awards", Los Angeles Times, September 10, 2015.
  31. ^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. January 18, 2015.
  32. ^ "Winners of the '46th NAACP Image Awards'". NAACP. February 10, 2015. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016.
  33. ^ "Claudia Rankine's 'exhilarating' poetry wins Forward prize", BBC News, September 29, 2015.
  34. ^ Tristram Fane Saunders (September 30, 2015), "Claudia Rankine wins £10,000 Forward prize with book of prose poems", The Telegraph.
  35. ^ "Claudia Rankine Wins Bobbitt Poetry Prize". Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  36. ^ Daniel DeVries (February 28, 2017), "Poet Claudia Rankine to deliver 2017 commencement keynote", Colgate University News.
  37. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Claudia Rankine". Retrieved November 19, 2018.

External links[edit]

External video
video icon Interview w/Tavis Smiley, December 8, 2014; c. 15 minutes.
video icon Book Discussion on Citizen: An American Lyric, C-SPAN, April 19, 2015