Visiting Poets

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine
Photo Credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

In what is sure to be an exhilarating event, author Claudia Rankine and filmmaker Garrett Bradley ’07 will share work and discuss genre-disruption, truth-telling, and the state of the arts in America today. This first-ever conversation between these two extraordinary artists will be moderated by acclaimed poet Chet’la Sebree, who read in our Fall 2021 series.

Claudia Rankines most recent hybrid books brilliantly interweave modes of poetry, essays, and visual art as a means of interrogating what Americans will (and won’t) say about issues of race, privilege, identity, and belonging. Her vast & multi-faceted body of work include the widely-acclaimed Just Us: An American Conversation and 2014’s Citizen: An American Lyric (both from Graywolf Press). Rankine teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Garrett Bradley ’07

Garrett Bradley ’07 is an artist and Oscar-nominated filmmaker who works across narrative, documentary and experimental modes of filmmaking. In 2020, Bradley presented her debut documentary feature length film, Time, which was nominated for more than 57 awards and won 20 times, including best director at the Sundance Film Festival.
Bradley lives and works in New Orleans.

Photo credit: blvxmth

This event will take place on March 1, 2022, at 6 p.m. Eastern via Zoom.
Co-presented by Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts at Bucknell & Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College. To register:

Select Poems


As if I craved error, as if love was ahistorical,
I came to live in a country not at first my own
and here came to love a man not stopped by reticence.

And because it seemed right
love of this man would look like freedom,

the lone expanse of his back
would be found land, I turned,

as a brown field turns, suddenly grown green,
for this was the marriage waited for: the man
desiring as I, movement toward mindful and yet.

It was June, brilliant. The sun higher than God.

An excerpt of “Testimonial” from THE END OF THE ALPHABET (Grove Press, 1998)

 What we live
before the life is turned off
is what prevents the light from being turned off.
In the marrow, in the nerve, in nightgowned exhaustion,
to secure the heart,
hoping my intention whole, I leave nothing
behind, drag nakedness to the brisker air of the garden.

What the sweeper has not swept gathers
to delay all my striving. But here I arrive
with the first stars: the flame in each
hanging like a trophy in the lull just before
the hours, those antagonists
that haunt and confiscate
what the hardware of slumber draws below.

An excerpt of “The quotidian” from THE END OF THE ALPHABET (Grove Press, 1998)

Though a previousness, cushioned by dark, aggregates the room
(for there is no disparity),

a room is brought into existence, the activity of—

Here Liv is letting herself feel as she feels, her will yielding to
streams, the lyric field of her everyday depths.

Her presence is. It’s come along, is lost, is loss, is wallside
reconciling: can I love now please?

Or in inclusion she bursts into a hood of tenderness: the body’s
anguish and flesh and all reflected in the absorbed atmosphere
soaking her being,

then the self feels deeper the depicted insistence engaged, its
essential nest, its scape—

And always and each contiguous thought, approaching the
distance, augments. Viewed against, the mind reshapes and here
is refuge without its tent.

All that’s resolved plots against her dividing self, binding her as
if any intervening space is recess for

her grave, an equivalence overlaying presence. Can I love now

From PLOT (Grove Press, 2001)

Poetry Center Reading

Spring 2005
Spring 2022