An American Lyric

Paperback - 2014
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"Rankine's ... 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"--From publisher's description.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9781555976903
Characteristics: 169 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

A critically-acclaimed book of poetry that was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award, Citizen is an examination of race in America. The form Rankine’s work takes is prose poems, images, and short essays cumulating into a powerful rumination on the lived experiences of black people. It’s ... Read More »

2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry

From the critics

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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.

Cynthia_N Oct 26, 2017

Very powerful and some of it just shocking. Great read!

LPL_ShirleyB Aug 15, 2017

Savor this wise, lyrical prose of race awareness. And meet Rankine in person September 7, 2017 at KU's Lied Center in Lawrence, KS.

Jul 07, 2017

A collection of poems, notes for scripts, artwork and descriptions of situations. Racism is alive and well in the U.S. of A.

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