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NEA’s Big Read

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric

Three Ways to Join


About the Book

Jamaican-born author Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, two plays, and numerous video collaborations. Citizen: An American Lyric (2014 National Book Award Winner) powerfully reflects on racism in the United States. Rankine’s groundbreaking prose poem interweaves personal testimony, representations of events in mass media, and contemporary art. As Rankine writes, “You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard. Not everything remembered is useful but it all comes from the world to be stored in you.” The book lays bare moments of racism that often surface in everyday encounters. It combines poetry with commentary, visual art, quotations from artists and critics, slogans, and scripts for films. It’s “an anatomy of American racism in the new millennium” (Bookforum).

Looking for a copy?

  1. Check one out from Tulsa City-County Library. Extra copies of the book have been ordered to meet demand.
  2. Support a Big Read partner: Magic City Books and Fulton Street Books both have copies available for purchase.


  1. Sign up with a book club to read and talk about the book with others. Looking for a group? Visit these links: Magic City Books and Tulsa City-County Library.
  2. Looking for reader resources and discussion questions for your group? Visit the NEA Big Read web page devoted to the book here.


Claudia Rankine on Citizen, Poetry and Past as Present
Thursday, June 17
7:00pm – 8:30pm

Join renowned writer Claudia Rankine for a reading and conversation reflecting on her book Citizen: An American Lyric, winner of the 2014 National Book Award.

Register for your spot on the Tulsa City-County Library’s website. This virtual, free program is an NEA Big Read event.

This program is a partnership among Fulton Street Books, Philbrook Museum of Art, Magic City Books, PEN America, Tulsa City-County Library and the Tulsa Library Trust.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.