Famous poet Claudia Rankine will visit the campus

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March 28, 2022

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan will host Claudia Rankine, New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of The Racial Imaginary Institute, for a 4 p.m. discussion event on Thursday, April 7 at the Hansen Student Center.

Following the on-campus interaction, Rankine will host a reading of his most recent work at the Normal Theater at 7 p.m., followed by a reception at the Medici Restaurant in Normal. Events are free and open to the public.

Additionally, the Illinois Wesleyan English Department is hosting a reading group in preparation for the event which will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at the Center for Liberal Arts Room 105. The reading list and more information can be found
here.

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, three plays and numerous video collaborations. His recent collection of essays Just Us: An American Conversationwas published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She is also co-editor of several anthologies including The racial imaginary: writers on race in the life of the mind. In 2016 Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among his many awards and accolades, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Lannan Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and National Endowment. Arts.

Claudia Rankine is a top notch poet who is able to engage the two sources of power of poetry, both the rhetorical and the Orphic, creating poems that speak clearly to aspects of our historical moment – especially all ones that require affirmation that indeed, Black Lives Matter – but in a way that is mindful of how insidious and pervasive racist ideologies are and engages those ideologies with combinations of edgy counter-narratives and insistent songs,” said Michael Theune, Robert W. Harrington English teacher.

Through his renowned work, Rankine explores themes of race, economics, and global corporate culture, addressing them through various genres including poetry, prose, and visual art. Theune said Rankine’s event at the Hansen Student Center will be dynamic and interactive, with a question-and-answer session.

Rankine’s Visit is presented by the William Morgan Distinguished Poet Series. It is co-sponsored with contributions from Professor Emeritus William Morgan of Illinois State University as well as several departments and offices at Illinois Wesleyan University and UIS.

“Illinois Wesleyan is at a crucial crossroads in its own evolution,” Theune said. “Among the many identity projects in which it participates, the institution has engaged in concerted efforts to become an increasingly diverse, equitable and inclusive university. Claudia Rankine’s visit here will be a gift in this regard. Rankine has so much to offer, so many ideas to share, that I can only imagine that his presence will help in some ways to accelerate, enliven and move these conversations, this work forward. But let’s be clear: Rankine’s visit should be understood as, to use the language of advancement, a gift of defiance. By itself, this won’t solve anything. The work will remain to be done. »

By Kailee Galloway ’23


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