Citizen: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

I read a lot of theory, a lot of writing about social justice, and to be frank, a lot of the actual writing is boring. It might be about something incredibly important, incredibly urgent, but a lot of it leaves me cold as an arrangement of words that could have style as well as purpose. I realize that not everyone is looking for this in their reading, and realize on some level it’s a small pointless thing. But beautiful writing is something to aspire to.

How we do theory is important, how it’s written is important. It’s not more important as what’s being said, but it should be balanced. Good writing can be in services of whatever the piece’s ultimate political or social goal might be.

(My lived example of this is when I read Audre Lorde’s Zami for a literature class. The guy sitting next to me read this book and found the idea of intersectionality without that word ever getting used. This book is the best explanation of what intersectionality that I’ve ever found, as well as an incredibly written narrative.)

Citizen does it all — great writing, and solid theory about urgent political needs. It’s taking on blackness in America in 2015, which is something I can’t really speak to, but something important for us all to be reading about.

I should also be reading more poetry. We should all probably be reading more poetry. It can be easy to think of poetry as something less urgent, more removed, less political, but it isn’t, it doesn’t have to be.

Citizen is a really worthwhile read that I’d like to return to sometime. I read it in one evening just on my own, and I feel like I could get a lot more out of it if I reread it or discussed it. The beginning might be the best thing I’ve ever read about microaggressions, and I really want to reread it already. Which I could do right now, except that I have #bloggoals and am too tired for serious reading. But it’s a super great book. Go read more poetry. Go be more poetic.


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