Citizen: An American Lyric is a 2014 book-length poem by American poet Claudia Rankine. Citizen stretches the conventions of traditional lyric poetry by interweaving several forms of text and media into a collective portrait of racial relations in the United States. The book ranked as a New York Times Bestseller in 2015 and won several awards, including the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry, and the 2015 Forward Prize for Poetry Best Collection. In her critique of racism and visibility, Rankine details the quotidian microaggressions African-Americans face, discusses controversial incidents such as backlashes against tennis player Serena Williams, and inquires about the ramifications of the shootings of Trayvon Martin and James Craig Anderson. She interperses her writing with images of various paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other digital media to "render visible the black experience". The book received enthusiastic reviews. Dan Chiasson, in the New Yorker, wrote that "[Citizen] is an especially vital book for this moment in time. ...The realization at the end of this book sits heavily upon the heart: 'This is how you are a citizen,' Rankine writes. 'Come on. Let it go. Move on.' As Rankine's brilliant, disabusing work, always aware of its ironies, reminds us, 'moving on' is not synonymous with 'leaving behind.' In the Washington Post, Michael Lindgren wrote, "Part protest lyric, part art book, Citizen is a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of black life in America".The book was ranked the greatest literary work of the 2010s by Literary Hub contributors.
About the Author
Claudia Rankine (born 1963) is a poet, essayist, playwright, and editor of several anthologies. She is the author of five volumes of poetry, two plays, and various essays. 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.