Distinguished Readers Series

2016 Distinguished Reader: Renowned Poet Claudia Rankine

Poet Claudia RankineMore than 300 people came out on October 27th to hear our 2016 Distinguished Reader, renowned poet and author Claudia Rankine. Rankine read from her poetry, answered questions, and signed books. The reading was the final event of the 2016 True Lit Fayetteville Literary Festival. 

Thank you to the Fayetteville Public Library for hosting the reading and to the many community partners who make the True Lit Festival possible. We're proud to bring some of the nation's most important writers to Northwest Arkansas and grateful to all who came out to participate and listen.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Nothing in Nature is Private. Her most recent volume, Citizen: An American Lyric, won both critical and popular acclaim and has become a touchstone in the recent national debates about race. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, where it gained the distinction of being the first book ever to be nominated in both the poetry and criticism categories. Other awards for the collection include the NAACP Award, the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award. It was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award.

Rankine won a 2016 MacArthur "genius grant" shortly before her visit to Northwest Arkansas. Among her many other honors are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets and the Lannan Foundation. In 2014, she was awarded the $50,000 Poets & Writers Jackson Poetry Prize, which honors an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves greater recognition.

In addition to her poetry, Rankine has authored plays, edited anthologies, and collaborated in video productions. Her work has been described as crossing genres, but its effect is less a conscious rejection of boundaries than a willingness to let expression find the form it needs. 

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

She teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

Rankine’s reading was one of many events slated for Fayetteville’s True Lit literary festival, which also featured an author talk by Newbery award-winning writer Louis Sachar. The festival is organized by numerous local partners, including the Fayetteville Public Library and Fayetteville Public Schools. 

The Program in Creative Writing and Translation Distinguished Readers Series is made possible by the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, the Walton Family Foundation, and the James E. and Ellen Wadley Roper Professorship in Creative Writing.

Past Distinguished Readers: