Poet Claudia Rankine '93 is a MacArthur Fellow

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Claudia Rankine
Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program alumna Claudia Rankine '93 has been named to the 2016 class of MacArthur Foundation Fellows.
"Receiving this award is such an incredible honor," said Rankine. "To have a career recognized in this way, a career and practice that I feel in many ways began at Columbia School of the Arts, is a very exciting and motivating gift."
Rankine's most recent work, Citizen: An American Lyric, won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the 2015 PEN American Open Book Award and the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry, and garnered a huge amount of attention and critical praise.

"I've been reading Claudia's work for over two decades now and have watched it evolve from something quite private at first into something very eager to reach out, to engage directly with the crucial issues of our times," said Timothy Donnelly '98, Chair of the Writing Program. "Her work has grown increasingly public-oriented without ever sacrificing its intimacy—or its artistry, which has always been impeccable. Claudia is one of the most radically scrupulous people I have ever met, truly, and an artist—a maker—through and through. It's been thrilling to see her achievements receive the recognition and readership they very much deserve, not only here in the States but overseas as well. If the point of an award like this is to recognize, and to promote, not only literary excellence but also a broader sense of cultural pertinence or 'significance,' I can think of no single person more deserving of this award. I am very happy with this news."
The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. This year’s fellows will receive $625,000, to be paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.

The MacArthur citation calls Rankine, "a poet illuminating the emotional and psychic tensions that mark the experiences of many living in twenty-first-century America," and goes on to say, "Over the course of five collections, Rankine has adopted different forms of poetic expression that correspond to the trajectory of her concerns from the private to the public."

Rankine received a BA from Williams College and an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts. She held faculty positions at Barnard College (1998–2006), Pomona College (2006–2015), and the University of Southern California (2015–2016), prior to joining the faculty of Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry in the Departments of English and African American Studies. She has published five collections of poetry, Citizen (2014), Don't Let Me Be Lonely (2004), In Plot (2001), The End of the Alphabet (1998) and Nothing in Nature Is Private (1994), and the essay collections The Racial Imaginary (co-editor, 2015) and American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (co-editor, 2007). Her play, The Provenance of Beauty, premiered with the Foundry Theatre in New York in 2009, and in 2013 she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

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