The MacArthur Foundation announced the 2016 MacArthur Fellows today, commonly known as the “genius grants,” and this year’s class includes Kingston’s Claudia Rankine. Claudia and 22 other Fellows will receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for their exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields.
“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”
Claudia Rankine is a poet who takes an experimental approach to crafting verse and focuses on the everyday emotional experiences of life in the 21st century. Her most recent book Citizen, which focuses the emotional and psychic toll of the everyday racism encountered by African Americans, has become part of the national conversation around race and policing. Her work shows the relevance of poetry to contemporary social issues, particularly race in America.
In addition to her poetry, Rankine has become a critical voice in current conversations about racial violence through essays, lectures, and a co-created series of short films entitled Situations. Rankine is crafting critical texts that are proving to be essential for understanding American life while also enriching the craft of poetry with a new sense of agency and urgency.