This past weekend, I had the opportunity to present at the California Library Association (CLA) on the #BooktoAction panel about the grant we received at the Ukiah Library last spring. I discussed ways our library used the grant from the CA State Library & the CA Center for the Book to have community conversations around the book Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine.
Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen: An American Lyricis an innovative work of poetry, prose, and visual images that addresses racism in America. Rankine introduces the concept of micro-aggressions, or small instances of racism in everyday encounters. Some of these are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in public and private life, in sports, online, on TV, everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive, and Rankine’s work puts you into this space. The book has won many awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the Forward Prize for Best Collection (UK), the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, and the PEN Open Book Award. It has sold over 180,000 copies since its October 2014 publication.
Citizen was a multi-part program around engaging our community in meaningful conversations about race, racism, racial micro-aggressions, white privilege, and structural inequality. This series was the beginning of ongoing programs we will have at the Ukiah Library to promote racial equity and transformative justice.
the ammonite an index of sutures
i got tired of cataloging them
hermetically sealing little traumas
afraid they’d get to know one another go boom
little mother catastrophes instead
i smashed little rocks to bits in a ditch
each shard a memory released pressure
from stomach the common burial ground
the cavity of accumulation
each little box coated in dust and feelings
each glass stone chamber not really secret
i get ready to shatter the discretions
i open my palms no explosions no pain
coalesce little traumas wrap your wounds
around each other a chrysalis blood
a becoming of feathers of air a fire
Thanks so much to Robert Hansen, the one-man micro-press & publisher at Poems-For-All for publishing these two delightful micro-chaps: green glass asterisms & the leaves the leaves! Check them out & submit your work to this wonderful press whose ethos is to ensure poetry is available & accessible to all, to “scatter poetry like seeds”. The only currency required is poetry. Yes!