Sister Mariella Gable Award winner Claudia Rankine to read at CSB

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January 12, 2015

Author Claudia Rankine will read from her book, "Citizen: An American Lyric," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at Gorecki Center room 204 A and B at the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota.

"Citizen: An American Lyric," which won the 2014 Sister Mariella Gable Award, is Rankine's first new book in nearly a decade and fifth book overall. It is a follow-up to Rankine's book, "Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric."

"Citizen" was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry.

In essay and prose poems, "Citizen" investigates the ways in which racism pervades daily American life. Rankine's "arrestingly forthright, emotionally authentic, and artistically lithe inquiry induces us to question and protest every racial assault against our individual and collective humanity," according to Booklist magazine.

The encounters described in her book are all true. "There's no imagination, actually. Many of the anecdotes in the book were gathered by asking friends of mine to tell me moments when racism surprisingly entered in when you were among friends or colleagues, or just doing some ordinary thing in your day," Rankine told National Public Radio .

Though the book started as a telling of personal experiences of racism, it has also inspired a sense of urgency across the nation in the wake of the many instances of violence against black men. Rankine visited Ferguson, Missouri, to speak only weeks after the death of Michael Brown.

"There's something very moving about having so many people step into a subject that I have been consumed with for so long, and suddenly understand the urgency that I have been feeling for 20 years," Rankine told The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry. In 2014, Rankine was awarded Poets & Writers magazine Jackson Poetry Prize, presented to an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition. She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of Poetry at Pomona College.

The Sister Mariella Gable Award is given each year by the College of Saint Benedict to an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press. "Citizen" is the 14th book to be given the Sister Mariella Gable Book Award. The late Sister Mariella Gable was a Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer and champion of new fiction. She was an outstanding English professor who taught at CSB from 1928-73.

Graywolf Press and the Literary Arts Institute (LAI) at CSB have formed a partnership, exploring innovative ways to promote the literary arts on campus, to audiences in the surrounding area and in the Twin Cities. Among some of the most well-known poets who have visited CSB are Seamus Heaney, Fanny Howe, Diane Ackerman, Nick Flynn, Elizabeth Alexander and Jorie Graham.
Rankine will be in residence at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University from Jan. 27-30. She will visit English, communication and book arts classes during her residency.