Foreign Policy Magazine

Lines of Resistance

Will America see a rebirth of political verse?

In her 2014 book Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine combines verse, prose, and images to create a powerful record of the black American experience. She offers many anecdotes of insult and erasure, such as when a man cuts in line at a drugstore. “Oh my God, I didn’t see you,” he says to the poet. But it is the failure to be seen and known that, in Rankine’s analysis, accounts for much more serious injustices, including the fatal police shootings of young black men. Indeed, to read Citizen is to realize that, when Rankine writes about politics, her first task is to convince her readers,

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