Claudia Rankine has been named the eighth winner of the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize. The award, run by the nonprofit organization Poets & Writers, is “given annually to an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition.”
In an email interview with the New York Times on Monday, Ms. Rankine referred to her “dramatic changes stylistically, formally and in terms of content” over the course of her career. “For me, this prize recognizes the importance of experimentation and radical imagination, to use Robin Kelley’s terminology,” she said. (Robin Kelley is the author of “Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination”.) “Often a division is made between politics and poetry,” Ms. Rankine continued, “and I like to think this is a moment when the intersection is recognized.”
The poets on this year’s panel of judges for the prize were Tracy K. Smith, David St. John and Mark Strand.
In October, Ms. Rankine will publish “Citizen,” a follow-up to 2004’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” “Both books reside in the realm where one’s attempts to negotiate a day are complicated by racial interactions,” Ms. Rankine said. “Where ‘Lonely’ looked at the role of media in our private lives, ‘Citizen’ attempts to understand how black people, like tennis star Serena Williams, negotiate racism on a public stage.”
The Jackson Poetry Prize was first awarded in 2007. The previous winners are Arthur Sze, Henri Cole, James Richardson, Harryette Mullen, Linda Gregg, Tony Hoagland and Elizabeth Alexander.
article by John Williams via nytimes.com