The Columns

Poet Claudia Rankine to Lecture as Part of the Ethics of Citizenship Series at W&L

— by on January 17th, 2016

Claudia Rankine, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English at the University of Southern California, will lecture at Washington and Lee University on Jan. 20, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

She will speak on “The Creative Imagination and Race: The Making of ‘Citizen.'” The event is free and open to the public.

Her talk is part of the year-long series on The Ethics of Citizenship and is sponsored by W&L’s Roger Mudd Center for Ethics.

Rankine has been with the University of Southern California since July 2015. She is known for her boundary-pushing poetry that deals with racial aggression in 21st-century daily life.

She received the Poet and Writers’ 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, an award honoring an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition. In 2013, she was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a position held in the past by W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich.

Rankine’s book “The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind” (2015), collects poems and essays from a web project she created, in which she asked writers and artists to document the difficulties they faced when writing about race.

Her book “Citizen: An American Lyric” (2014) received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry, an NAACP Image Award for literature, was included on the New York Times best seller list and was on the New York Times’ Sunday Book Reviews 100 Notable Books of 2015. Rankine also received the PEN Oakland Award for “Citizen” in the fall 2015.

Rankine’s other poetry collections are “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” (2004),  “Plot” (2001), “The End of the Alphabet” (1998) and “Nothing in Nature is Private” (1994). She is also a playwright — among her works are “The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue” and “Existing Conditions.”

She is the co-editor of several anthologies, including “The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind” (2015) and “American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics” (2006). She has produced documentary videos in collaboration with her husband, photographer John Lucas.

The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his gift, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”

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