friday poem — Claudia Rankine and Split this Rock

Split this Rock is a DC-based nonprofit that “cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.” I’m a big fan and supporter of this organization, and have learned so much from their work in the world. They recently launched a Social Justice Poetry Database that gathers over 300 poems by socially engaged poets, and I’m sure it will continue to grow. It’s a fantastic resource.

This week, I read a powerful essay by Claudia Rankine in the NYT Magazine, “The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning.” I highly recommend it. After reading Rankine’s essay, I went back to her celebrated book, Citizen. And since I’ve never heard her read her poems, found a video of her reading an excerpt from Citizen (on the Split this Rock database, no less). It’s worth your time to watch this, and I hope it makes you want to read her book.

“And you are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.”