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Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, (Graywolf Press, 2014) was the first book to be nominated by the National Book Critics Circle for both poetry and criticism. These categories might seem incompatible or even contradictory, but not if you are familiar with Rankine’s work. Her collage-like approach defies genre and pushes boundaries as a matter of course.

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At the awards ceremony last month, the judges split the difference and awarded Citizen the prize for best book of poetry. In celebration of National Poetry Month, here are a couple of Rankine’s earlier poems from JSTOR:

“New Windows” was published in The Kenyon Review.

From “New Windows”:

It’s been wanting to rain all morning
and without the sun leaving
and blue suggested, it comes down easy
against the leaves, sinking
in between blades of grass

In “Testimonial,” published in Mississippi Review, the line “I came to live in a country not at first my own / and there came to love a man not stopped by reticence” points to the author’s autobiographical roots. Rankine was born in Jamaica in 1963 and came to the U.S. when she was a child. Now a professor of English at Pomona Collage, she has published five collections of poetry.



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The Kenyon Review, New Series, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring, 1994) , pp. 19-20
Kenyon College
Mississippi Review, Vol. 24, No. 3, Caribbean Writing (Spring, 1996), p. 120
University of Southern Mississippi