Claudia Rankine, an award-winning poet, author and the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, will perform a live reading of poetry on April 18 in Alice Statler Auditorium.
Rankine, who was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the United States in her youth, has built a storied career tackling issues of race and identity in contemporary America.
Rankine has written five collections of poetry, and is perhaps best known for Citizen: An American Lyric, a 2014 book which “uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images, to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a ‘post-racial’ society,” according to her agency Blue Flower Arts.
Citizen: An American Lyric was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and was heralded by NPR for examining “everyday encounters with racism in the second person, forcing the reader — regardless of identity — to engage a narrative haunted by the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Renisha McBride.”
In 2016, she received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for “crafting critical texts for understanding American culture at the beginning of the 21st century in inventive, ever-evolving forms of poetic expression,” according to the grant’s website.
Rankine is also the founder of the Racial Imaginary Institute, an initiative that aims to discuss race across different mediums like lectures, art exhibitions and with different organizations and artists.
The reading is part of the Robert Chasen Memorial Poetry Reading, a biannual Cornell event where a distinguished poet is invited to perform a live poetry reading. This event is also the final installment in the 2019 Spring Barbara & David Zalaznick Creative Writing Reading Series, a program that provides funds to invite a number of high-profile writers to campus each semester.
The event is free to the public, but people wishing to attend must reserve their spot by picking up a free ticket from the Willard Straight Resource Center. Tickets will be available starting March 1.