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An evening with Claudia Rankine; acclaimed poet comes to UA

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Heather Newberry and | The Daily Wildcat

A look at Claudia Rankine's book "Citizen" in the poetry center on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Rankine has received numerous awards for "Citizen," which explores the implications of living in a multicultural society. 

The UA poetry community and the UA Honors College will host an evening featuring the award-winning poet, playwright and essayist Claudia Rankine on Friday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.

The UA Honors College welcomes everyone to this special event, which takes place in Environment and Natural Resources 2 room N120, at 1064 E. Lowell St.

Rankine will read from her book "Citizen." One of its many distinguishing factors, "Citizen" remains the only poetry novel to make it on the New York Times bestseller list within the nonfiction category.

This exemplifies a major step for the poetry community as well as for Rankine herself.

“Poetry, unlike prose, is about individual words and sound," said creative writing sophomore Christy Duprey. "There are qualities to a poem that can only be experienced out loud."

Rankine, author of five collections of poetry, remains a prominent figure within the poetry and creative writing community. Likewise, her bestselling book "Citizen" has been nominated for many awards.

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The book is a controversial work and highlights what means to exist as an American citizen in a multicultural society today. Rankine tells these narratives by writing about relevant topics such as race and cultural distinction and utilizing strong imagery within her poetry.

For the UA to host such a prominent and controversial poet says a lot about the changing atmosphere of the UA.

“Universities need to be a place for artistic debate as much as intellectual debate,” Duprey said.

This event will truly open the eyes and ears of many listeners and poetry readers alike.

“How often will people really have the pleasure of listening and experiencing such a renowned poet as Claudia Rankine?” asked creative writing sophomore Lo Kidd.

Kidd said that what really attracts a lot of readers and listeners to Rankine’s work is that her poetry is very relatable.

“It speaks highly of the UA to host such an influential poet,” Kidd said.

For those who have never listened to a poetry reading before, it can be a very moving and mind-altering experience. Listening to a powerful message from someone who took the time to write and read it aloud to a mass group of people can really alter someone’s head space and expand their own creativity.

“You connect with the work more," said creative writing sophomore Kelcie Witzins. "You feel how someone else interprets a poem and that can help you see more into it. Sometimes it is magical.”

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A captivating and influential text for this day and age, "Citizen" won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry, the PEN Open Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection.

Rankine’s voice within the poetry community echoes for all students and faculty to hear this upcoming Friday.

“It will be a fun experience to go with friend or by yourself," Witzins said. "You can experience something new and you may find that you like the poetry or Rankine’s work."


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