Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3515-8751 Kamionowski Jerzy


Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. An American Lyric is a perplexing work of literature both because of its original presentation of the issue of racism in the US today and the original formal ways through which its message is communicated. It is formally innovative and technically experimental in an unusual “average reader”-friendly manner, situating itself a world apart from postmodern “poetics of interruption and illegibility” (Davidson 602). Paradoxically, being almost a poem with a purpose, it expands existing categories. Its sociological orientation and emphasis on poetic language’s capacity to inform, instruct, emotionally move and morally engage the reader goes together with activating more experimental formal strategies, as it merges a variety of media: there are examples of spectacular instances of racism, represented by the photographs, and in a series of scripts for Situation videos made by the author in collaboration with her husband John Lucas. This article demonstrates how formal engagement with the visual arts may serve the purpose of stigmatizing racism and making poetry matter within the field of current public debate on important cultural, social and political problems discussed in historical contexts of racism-cum-race. The conceptualization of the issues discussed here is based on the notion of “seeing through race” (introduced into the field of study of the visual arts and literature by W. J. T. Mitchell in 2012), which has changed the perception of the relationship between race and racism.


African American poetry, Claudia Rankine, racism, race, visual arts


American Literature | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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