Sunday 9 June 2024

'Citizen' by Claudia Rankine


A local dog charity shop, Madra, along with the usual books has a good literary section for fifty cents. Buy one get one free.  Too good to leave after me. So ‘All Well that Ends Well’, Citizen by Claudine Rankine, Vol 3 of Brian Friel plays, ‘The Poems of Thomas Hardy: A Critical Introduction by Kenneth Marsden, ‘Queen Lucia’ and ‘Lucia in London’ by Fred Benson.

Claudia Rankine I’d never heard of but the gushing accolades front and back in a pristine copy for 50 cents:  plunge on.  It won a National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the Forward Prize for Best Collection.  No I wasn’t brow beaten by Upper Case but you pay attention.  Dipping in and out the curious thing about this work is that it isn’t poetry in the common acceptation of that category of literary production.  It isn’t verse, it doesn’t scan, the drum beat of stress do not progress along the blocks of unheightened prose.  It is no more and no less than a continuous whine from someone whom you would suppose has fetched up at a cosy academic harbour and might be well pleased with herself.  No, no, no, no, not at all; Ms.Rankine lives in that place of threat where people of colour live.

“To live through the days sometimes you moan like deer.  Sometimes you sigh.  The world says stop that.  Another sigh.  Moaning elicits laughter, sighing upsets.  Perhaps each sigh is drawn into existence to pull in, pull under, who knows truth be told, you could no more control those sighs than that which brings the sighs about.”

All serious readers must sigh in solidarity and deplore the affirmative action that elevates this moaniad which does indeed elicit laughter.  True that.

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