Citizen: An American Lyric

Citizen: An American Lyric Study Guide

Citizen: An American Lyric was published in 2014 by American poet Claudia Rankine, and remains a timely, even urgent meditation on race, violence, racism, art, and mediation. The book has been described as both criticism and poetry; critic Michael Lindgren says the book "boundary-bending potency" and is "an innovative amalgam of genres." The book can function as both a poetic work and a political work, a meditation on both activism and literary aesthetics.

Met with wide praise, the book received the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the 2015 PEN Open Book Award. It was also named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and was cited as a major achievement when Rankine received Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize. Dan Chiasson of 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.'" Writing for The Washington Post, Michael Lindgren described the book as "Part protest lyric, part art book, Citizen is a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of black life in America."