Award-winning and best-selling poet Claudia Rankine to appear in Coe Marquis Series event

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2016-01-08 09:30:51 - General

Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, one of today's most recognized and best-selling poets, will appear in a Coe College Marquis Series event on Thursday, Jan. 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium. Rankine's award-winning poetry focuses on contemporary social issues, especially racism. According to a review of her work in The New York Times, "The challenge of making racism relevant, or even evident, to those who do not bear the brunt of its ill effects is tricky. Rankine brilliantly pushes poetry’s norms to disarm readers and circumvent our carefully constructed defense mechanisms against the hint of possibly being racist ourselves."

Marquis Series patrons can purchase individual tickets for $15, $10 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the Coe Box Office at 399-8600, Monday - Friday, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the event.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including "Citizen: An American Lyric" and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely." As a playwright, she has written two plays including "Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue." She is the editor of several anthologies including "The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind." Rankine also co-produces a video series, "The Situation," alongside John Lucas, and is the founder of the "Open Letter Project: Race and the Creative Imagination." Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers' Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Rankine's best-selling book, "Citizen: An American Lyric" (Graywolf, 2014), uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a "post-racial" society. A defining text for our time, "Citizen" was the winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (it was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award's history to be a double nominee), the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry. "Citizen" was nominated for the Hurston/Wright 2015 Legacy Award and was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. It was also selected as an NPR Best Book of 2014. "Citizen" also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.

In all of her work, whether writing about intimacy or alienation, Rankine's voice is one of unrelenting candor, and her poetry is some of the most innovative and thoughtful work to emerge in recent years. Her work often crosses genres as it tracks wild and precise movements of mind. In the words of the judges' citation for the Jackson Prize: "The moral vision of Claudia Rankine's poetry is astounding. In a body of work that pushes the boundaries of the contemporary lyric, Rankine has managed to make space for meditation and vigorous debate upon some of the most relevant and troubling social themes of the 20th and 21st centuries….These poems do the work of art of the highest order - teaching, chastening, changing, astounding, and humanizing the reader."

Rankine lives in California and serves as the Aerol Arnold Chair in the University of Southern California English Department.

The Coe College Lecture and Performance Series is funded in part by a gift from the estate of Sarah Marquis in honor of her father, Dr. John A. Marquis, who was president of Coe College from 1909-1920. The purpose of the series is to bring entertainment and educational experiences to the Coe campus for the benefit of the entire community.

For more information, go to or call 319-399-8600.