Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2014. 160 pages.
THE SPLIT-SCREEN IMAGE from November 24, 2014, already seems iconic. On one side, the president speaks from the White House about law and restraint and progress. On the other, smoke rises from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as armed police officers face protesters with their hands up. When I saw that image, I turned off the news feed and began to reread Claudia Rankine’s new volume of poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric. I kept reading in the days following, when the failure to indict a police officer who shot to death an unarmed black teenager was followed by the failure to indict a police officer who choked to death an unarmed black man. That killing was captured on video. So was the shooting of a black twelve-year-old playing with a toy gun at a Cleveland park. As Rankine herself
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.