Claudia Rankine, born in Kingston, Jamaica, earned a bachelor’s degree at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia University. She has published several collections of poetry, beginning with Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize, followed by Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004). In 2014, Citizen: An American Lyric won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the PEN Center USA Poetry Award, and the Forward poetry prize.
Her work crosses genres; as critic Calvin Bedient observed, “Hers is an art neither of epiphany nor story…. Rankine’s style is the sanity, but just barely, of the insanity; the grace, but just barely, of the grotesqueness.” Her poems also appear in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003), Best American Poetry (2001), and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry (1996). Her play “Detour/South Bronx” premiered in 2009 at the Foundry Theater in New York. Rankine also coedited American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2002), American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (2007), and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (2014). Rankine has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2013, and in 2014, she won a Lannan Literary Award. She has taught at Barnard College, Case Western Reserve University, Pomona College, and the University of Houston.