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Just Us: A Conversation with Claudia Rankine

Thursday 11 March 2021, 6.00PM

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, first published in 2014, offered an unwavering diagnosis of racism in American social life and became a powerful aesthetic statement of the Black Lives Matter era. Combining poetry, the essay, visual art, and cultural criticism, Citizen’s hybrid form tests the limits of poetic form in a way that has become a central component of Rankine’s political critique. As a testament to this dual focus, Citizen is currently the only book of poetry to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. 

Rankine’s new book, Just Us: An American Conversation (2020) continues the affective and intellectual work of Citizen and Don’t Let me Be Lonely (2004) as Rankine turns her critical eye to the imaginative and discursive constructions of whiteness in American cultural and political life. Just Us continues to push formal boundaries, experimenting with essayistic forms as she combines anthropology, statistics, lyric, photography, cartography and, of course, conversation. Together, these modes explore ‘what it takes to stay in the room together’.  

In this exclusive event at the University of York, Claudia Rankine will give a short reading from Just Us, followed by a dialogue with Dr Lola Boorman (Department of English and Related Literature), and a Q&A with the audience. 

This event is jointly supported by the Centre for Modern Studies research strand, The Contemporary EssayWriters at York, and the Department of English and Related Literature’s Modern School. 

Admission is free and open to all but booking is required via this Eventbrite link

About the speaker: Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March 2020 (The Shed, NYC), and The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/ American Repertory Theatre) and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019; numerous video collaborations; and a collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press, 2020). She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In 2016, Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among her numerous awards and honours, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and current Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale, Claudia Rankine will join the New York University (NYU) Creative Writing Program in Fall 2021. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Contact: Dr Lola Boorman (

Location: Zoom

Admission: Open to all staff, students, and the public.