Whether writing about intimacy or alienation, Claudia Rankine’s voice is one of unflinching and unrelenting candor. Her work stretches the conventions of genre as it challenges those of society. Michael Palmer praises her ability to “mobilize the narrative power of prose and the transrational logic of poetry to create a work of singular courage, lucidity, and imaginative force.” Intensely personal and deeply felt, her poems struggle with the challenge of creating wholeness in a fragmented world. “The writing,” says Lyn Hejinian, “never summarizes or reduces these to simples, leaving them instead in the full complexity in which they are encountered.”

Born in Kingston, Jamaica and educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Claudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including the award-winning Nothing in Nature is Private. In the volumes that follow, The End of the Alphabet and Plot, she courts paradox and confronts discontinuity, welding the cerebral and the spiritual, the sensual and the grotesque. Charles Bernstein called Plot “an unsettling poetry of the body wrestling itself in the making of thought.”

Rankine’s latest work, Don't Let Me Be Lonely – which bears the subtitle “An American Lyric,” but which the author refers to as prose fiction – is an experimental and deeply personal exploration of the condition of fragmented selfhood in contemporary America. Jorie Graham celebrates the book’s “raw political courage and aesthetic bravery . . . sad, funny, smart, tart, nuanced, blunt: one can only say thank you to such a poet.”

Rankine’s work has appeared in The Boston Review, jubilat, The Kenyon Review, and numerous other journals. She also co-edited the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language. She has taught at Barnard College and the University of Georgia, and currently teaches in the writing program at the University of Houston.


Poems by Claudia Rankine

["As if I craved error, as if love was ahistorical"]

["What we live"]

The Room is a Fountain in Experience




    Poetry Center Reading:
    Spring 2005