Claudia Rankine, the Henry G. Lee Professor of English, has been elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. This distinguished position has been held in the past by such poets as W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich.
Rankine, along with Marilyn Nelson and C.D. Wright, was selected by 15 members of the Academy's current Board of Chancellors for the six-year term of service. The chancellors act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large, advocate for the programmatic work of the Academy, consult with the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming, and elect award recipients.
Born in Kingston, Rankine earned her BA degree at Williams College and her MFA at Columbia University. She has been at Pomona College since 2006 and is the author of four collections of poetry: Don't Let Me Be Lonely (2004), Plot (2001), The End of the Alphabet (1998) and Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State University Book Prize. Her most recent collection, Don't Let Me Be Lonely, is a multi-genre project that blends poetry, essays and images, and explores the condition of fragmented selfhood in contemporary America. Poet Robert Creely said of the book: "Claudia Rankine here manages an extraordinary melding of means to effect the most articulate and moving testament to the bleak times we live in I've yet seen. It's master work in every sense, and altogether her own."
Rankine has edited numerous anthologies, including American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics (2007) and American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century (2002), and has also written several plays. The New York Times called her performance piece "Provenance of Beauty," which took place on a charter bus winding through the South Bronx, an "engrossing urban adventure, which does not conform to the standard formula for theater but does make the bustle outside the bus throb with history, mystery and meaning, as the best live performances do." She has also produced videos in collaboration with John Lucas. Her classes at Pomona include Poets in the 21st Century, Poetry Movements Since the 1950s, and Creative Writing: Poetry.
Academy of American Poets Chancellor Mark Doty said about Rankine: "Claudia Rankine's formally inventive poems investigate many kinds of boundaries: the unsettled territory between poetry and prose, between the word and the visual image, between what it's like to be a subject and the ways we're defined from outside by skin color, economics and global corporate culture. This fearless poet extends American poetry in invigorating new directions."
Founded in 1934, The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets, overseeing National Poetry Month, the website Poets.org, the biannual literary journal American Poet, and an annual series of poetry readings and special events.
You can find more information on Claudia Rankine's work at www.claudiarankine.com.