Claudia Rankine, Pomona College's Henry G. Lee Professor of English, has been awarded the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, a $50,000 award that honors an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition.
"The moral vision of Claudia Rankine's poetry is astounding," say the judges. "In a body of work that pushes the boundaries of the contemporary lyric, Rankine has managed to make space for meditation and vigorous debate upon some of the most relevant and troubling social themes of the 20th and 21st centuries… In both vision and voice she has distinguished herself as a singular perspective, a consummate talent, and a courageous spirit."
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and educated at Williams College and Columbia University, Rankine 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 newest collection, Citizen: An American Lyric, will be released later this year. Rankine is also a playwright—among her works are The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue and Existing Conditions. She is the co-editor of several anthologies, including American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics (2006) and the forthcoming The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. She has produced videos in collaboration with John Lucas.
With Pomona since 2006, Rankine was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets last year, a position held in the past by W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop and Adrienne Rich. She has been awarded fellowships by the Academy of American Poets, the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Jackson Poetry Prize was established in 2006 with a gift from the Liana Foundation and is named for the John and Susan Jackson family. Eligible poets must have published at least two books of acknowledged literary merit, and nominees are identified by an anonymous group of poets selected by Poets & Writers. Past winners include Arthur Sze, Henri Cole and Harryette Mullen.