Claudia Rankine Wins Bobbitt Prize for Poetry

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Writing Program alumna Claudia Rankine ’93 has been awarded the 2016 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for her book Citizen: An American Lyric, which was published in 2014. The prize is bestowed by the Library of Congress and carries a monetary award of $10,000.

It’s one of several honors Rankine has received since publishing Citizen, which uses the prose-poetry and essay form to examine race and violence in America. Last fall, she received a MacArthur “genius” grant, which carries an award of $625,000. Rankine has said that she will use the money from that prize to found an institute in New York City devoted to the question of whiteness.

For Citizen, Rankine also received the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2015 PEN American Open Book Award, and the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry.

Timothy Donnelly ’98, Chair of the Writing Program, has said of Rankine’s writing, “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.”

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