Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
(Graywolf Press, 2014, 169 pages)
I feel like I could keep rereading this small book and take something different away from it each time. It packs that kind of punch. Citizen is broken down into 7 parts and each focuses on a different aspect of how the black experience is lived in this world where the death and/or invisibility of black people continues despite growing voices of outrage. The 7 parts of the book are filled with poems, short essays, and art in various forms.
Some sections hit harder for me than others. The night I finished reading this book I teared up in the process. Rankine does an amazing job making the reader reflect on what she has written on the page. There were some parts of Citizen that I honestly had a hard time deconstructing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth putting in the time to do so. There were actually a number of times I put the book down to look something up and get the history of what Rankine was referring to in the text.
Citizen was nominated for a National Book Award and was the recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry. I’d certainly recommend it, especially if you’ve been wondering what all the buzz was about.