PROSE POEMS, SOUND, IMAGE, MEANING
CITIZEN: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine
Thursday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.,
led by Michelle Blake, Writer in Residence
Copies of CITIZEN are available to borrow from Putney Public Library–just email Emily to reserve a copy AND/OR for the event link: firstname.lastname@example.org
“When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, and you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows. Usually you are nestled under blankets and the house is empty. Sometimes the moon is missing and beyond the windows the low, gray ceiling seems approachable. Its dark light dims in degrees depending on the density of clouds and you fall back into that which gets reconstructed as metaphor.”
This is the first line of Rankine’s book CITIZEN. The reader is invited into the private thoughts and memories of the writer, a Black woman born in Kingston, Jamaica, who attended college in the US and has lived here since. The book is an assemblage of prose poems, essays and images, both photos and paintings, that leads us deep into Rankine’s experience and wisdom.
A few things to keep in mind as we read: How do sound and image (linguistic image) work in the prose poems? How do the literal images, photos and paintings, inform the text and our understanding of the material? How does Rankine place us so close to the heart of her particular knowledge? I’m especially interested in the role of the body and physical experience—“You smell good.”
If you have time and inclination, pick a few favorites—poem, essay, image, anything—and reflect on why it’s powerful, why it works. In our discussion we’ll read sections out loud and look at all the ways in which the book evokes immediate experience.