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Claudia Rankine

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Section VII

Claudia Rankine was born in Jamaica and began writing at a young age. Claudia has co-edited and co-written many pieces, as well as having written five of her own collections. Her sole works include; Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004), PLOT (2001), etc. Claudia was also given an extraordinary review on her book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004) from poet Robert Creeley: “Claudia Rankine here manages an extraordinary melding of means to effect the most articulate and moving testament to the bleak times we live in I’ve yet seen. It’s master work in every sense, and altogether her own.”

As we began reading the section we noticed that the poem was extended for a few pages and expressed a type of motivational speech that made you feel like only you have the power to define you and nobody can put any negative energy towards you. Accordingly to Claudia Rankine, being you is the only you that exists: “You are you even before you grow into understanding you are not anyone, worthless, not worth you.” (Rankine, 139, para. 2). This gives a deeper meaning as to how you may not even recognize that your true being within is already before you go through that traitorous phase of degrading yourself and trying to find you and the beauty within you. Also, Claudia decides to acknowledge the cruel comments outsiders bring upon you: “And still a world begins its furious erasure---- Who do you think you are, saying I to me? You nothing. You nobody. You.” (Rankine, 142, para. 1). When taking a first glance at this the word that stood out was “erasure”, which is the removal of all traces to something or anything, and it makes you think that a world could spit sickening words at you and remove any trace of using their use of the words towards you out of their mind because their “furious” episode towards you is over, so now to them everything is okay and you should be as well.

The poem goes on to explain how the body begins to react to such content and drowns itself in it, which begins to become a norm to you because now you believe it and the words will forever be stuck with you. Telling yourself that you can’t even use the form of “I” since it holds such little meaning to it because you’re basically no one to everyone including yourself, but this isn’t a sickness that you’ve discovered in yourself instead you’re an injured person who will ache forever in your lifetime. You can care for your injured body and slowing down your surroundings while paying attention the beauty above you and having calming moment. Also, it ends to speak upon how the only injury is from not feeling that you don’t belong to you (Claudia, 142-146). We’re now given a scenario where the card you gave to your waitress is given to your friend because she fits the profile for the card to be yours and I love how instead of getting upset and causing a scene you guys just laugh it off. This shows how much this mistake is constantly made and ignored for the simple fact that we’re use to these actions and it’s become such a normal thing to us.

Going to the next page there is a story it explains how the speaker keeps their eyes on a father who carefully watches over children to make sure no danger comes near them instead of going in their house. This makes me think that even though the speaker can’t spot the father’s child their still amazed and engulfed in how one man that probably doesn’t know any of the children in front of him, besides of his child, but still feels the need to watch over them no matter what color or race they are. Lastly, it seems to be a diary entry due to the date that’s mentioned, July 13, 2013, and it surprises me because the flow of the poetry has now been changed to a well constructed piece of words. It goes on to explain how we become a citizen by moving along and letting it go, which the speakers partner seems to not be able to due since they wanted to “face off with a mouth” not caring what another person is capable of if the wrong thing is said. As I continue to read I recognized that the speaker goes into depth of their feelings and how others would laugh about it, which makes the speaker eventually avoid these feelings. We felt that this action is one of the any discouraging actions that seem to happen to people who look for answers, but instead seems to be shut down by a form of possible humiliation and embarrassment.

On page 151 we learned the meaning of the title “Citizen.” The poem reads,

“A friend writes of the numbing effects of humming and it returns you to your own sigh. It’s no longer audible. You’ve grown into it. Some call it again-



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