Reviews

Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine

libraryfairyrachel's review against another edition

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4.0

An evocative collection of prose, poetry, and artwork about blackness in America. This read is uncomfortable but necessary, and sadly just as relevant today as it was 5 years ago. At times it was so cerebral that i felt like the content was going over my head—this is definitely a book to read slowly to be sure you’re absorbing all of Rankine’s imagery and rhythm.

kelseyr713's review against another edition

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5.0

“How difficult is it for one body to feel the injustice wheeled at another? Are the tensions, the recognitions, the disappointments, and the failures that exploded in the riots too foreign?”

Stunning volume of poetry. Claudia’s language is beautiful, lyrical (as in the title) while expressing painful truths. I appreciated the different forms she uses throughout, and especially the power of the second person POV.

leahfrancis's review against another edition

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3.0

i think i'm just not in a poetry mood.

barberchicago_1129's review against another edition

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5.0

My daughter lent me Claudia Rankin’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which she was studying in one of her classes in college. And I will be forever grateful to the author for writing it, and to my kid for exposing me to it.

This says a lot about me and how steeped in my whiteness I am: while this is not one of the first books that made me *act*, this IS one of the first books made me *feel*. It has been said that white people often intellectualize racism - lots of thoughts, rarely feelings. While the lived experiences of white people - regarding race - could not be more different than those of our fellow Black humans, if we choose not to *feel*, than we can not empathize. And when we cannot empathize, we cannot act with compassion.
So this left me wondering if my actions this far - because I’ve been reading more informational texts on race from Black authors (again with the thinking) - have been more performative than real.

Perhaps it was the format of Citizen: An American Lyric that got through my whiteness-filled head and into my heart. Part poetry, part short stories, part mini-scripts, Lyric kept me riveted through its unique style.

And the words. Like knives through the heart, Lyric held up the mirror of whiteness and made me confront its ugliness that desecrates humanity, especially those whose skin is melanated. Moreover, it made me feel the daily, cumulative effect of “feel[ing] most colored when I am thrown against a sharp, white background” (Zora Neale Hurston.)

Sitting in needed discomfort and gratitude for the experiences brought to life through this book.

sophiaaudrey's review against another edition

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5.0

What Rankine says is a visual masterpiece as you read. I had to read this twice because my first read I just enjoyed her writing and poetry.
The second time I could not only empathize with the words but visualize her descriptions.
I definitely recommend this book if youre looking into exploring more work by Black authors and aren’t sure where to begin. This isn’t to say the other works aren’t important but I’d say this is definitely a top contender if you don’t know where to begin.

tracyy's review

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challenging dark emotional inspiring reflective sad tense fast-paced

4.5

earlgreybooks's review against another edition

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5.0

I have such strong memories of finishing this one that I don’t know why I didn’t write something down on Goodreads. I finished halfway through a lunch break and instantly started messaging the only poetry-reading friend I have and telling her about how much I’d loved it.

I had forgotten how incredible this really is. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best poetry books I’ve ever read. Every single word feels like a sharp jab to the gut and it's completely brilliant.

ninabear's review against another edition

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3.0

While I deeply appreciated this book and it’s overall content, I found myself feeling incredibly lost and as though I was missing an incredibly important point. The best way I could describe the feeling is like when you are looking out a frosted window, you can make out vague shapes and you can tell whether it’s night or day, whether it’s raining or not, and if there are people outside but you couldn’t say whether the mass of green in the corner is a bush or a car, whether the person who walked by was a man or woman, and so on. For this reason, I unfortunately had to leave this piece with 3 stars. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mindset, because generally I love this style of “proesy” but at the time of reading, I couldn’t. Another metaphor comes to mind, like when you try to take a deep breath but just can’t seem to fill your lungs all the way. Like that.

icequeen13's review against another edition

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5.0

A must read.