Rankine up to Win UK Poetry Prize for Shedding Light on Racism in America

Jamaican-born American writer Claudia Rankine earned her spot on the shortlist of the Forward Prize, one of the UK’s most prestigious poetry awards. Rankine’s unique poetry style in her new work, Citizen, has ignored poetic conventions in favor of using lyric essays, bits of film, and photography in order to reveal commonplace racism in America.

Citizen: An American Lyric’s second-person present perspective gives the reader a taste of how racism claws its way into the everyday lives of black Americans, including Rankine. Citizen has already claimed the title of the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry in the U.S. and was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first piece to be a finalist in two categories.

Citizen is up against four other poetry collections for this year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection, which comes with a £10,000 prize. Rankine will discover whether or not she’ll be the recipient of another award when the Forward Prize winners are announced on September 28.

Rankine’s boldness to break traditional poetry standards has allowed her to effectively reach the hearts of her audience. Who is one of your favorite innovative poets?

Photos courtesy of (left) and (right)