My students are reading Claudia Rankine’s poetry collection, CITIZEN. We had such an engaging conversation about the micro and macro aggressions pervading American Culture that the clock stopped in our classroom and we didn’t even notice.
What happens when you ask a roomful of smart young people about this complex and very adult book?
1) Some students relied on the metaphor of space to describe issues of voice. Did white privileged people have the right to “take up the space” to express their own rage? I also read “space” as a metaphor for capitalism. There were limited markets, these students said, for people to express opinions.
2) We agreed that framing small moments let us see the big issues.
3) We talked about how poetry fell apart under the weight of huge social traumas.
I went away from that class in awe. Of the book. Of my students