Discuss Rankine’s Citizen

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Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric

  • “Some Years There Exists A Wanting To Escape”
  • “You are in the dark, in the car”
  • “A woman you do not know wants to join you for lunch”
  • “On the train the woman standing”

Read the readings above and answer the questions below.

  1. How does the form (longer lines, more prose like than poetry at times) affect the overall feel of these poems? Does the structure have any impact on theme?
  2. What do these poems have to say about race? Identity?
  3. In “A woman you do not know wants to join you for lunch,” Rankine writes:A friend argues that Americans battle between the “historical self” and the “self self.”” What does she mean by this.
  4. Rankine calls Citizen an “American Lyric.” How do these poems define or reflect contemporary America?
  5. How does the film, “Situation 7” affect the way you perceive the poem?