Common Reading Program

Common Reading Program

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, author

Essay Scholarship Competition

Congratulations to our Essay Competition Winners!

$500 1st Prize: Sydney Norlander

$250 2nd Prize: Elizabeth Hommerding

$125 3rd Prize: Chassidy Walworth

$125 4th Prize: Emmarae Winter 

The annual scholarship fundraiser is Dec. 2 at Barnes and Noble.

Program Description and Goals

New first-year students received a copy of the selected text during your Huskies Advising and Registration session, giving you the opportunity to read the book by the start of your first semester at St. Cloud State. The purpose of this program is to provide a common academic experience for all new first-year students, which integrates both curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the year. In addition to events around the book at your New Student Orientation in August, many of you will use the book in at least one class you take during your first year, and all of you will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of programs throughout 2017-18 related to the book and issues it raises.

Your participation in the Common Reading Program will:

  • introduce you to the nature of collegiate academic life.
  • cultivate a sense of community with your new home at St. Cloud State.
  • help you develop connections with faculty and staff  and other students at the university.
  • get you involved in campus activities with related programs and events.
  • enrich your classroom experience with an shared intellectual experience that cuts across courses and co-curricular opportunities.

About the Book

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine

Citizen book cover

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the Bobbitt National Poetry Prize, as well as finalist for the National Book Award, "Citizen: An American Lyric" is a collection of poetry, prose, and images that provides a provocative analysis of race in America, with a deep commitment to advancing equality. In the poetry and prose that comprise this work, Rankine explores the everyday microaggressions faced by women and people of color. The creative format opens a space for critique, but also for sitting with the challenges of racial prejudice and racism.

The book was written with grants from The Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support Grant, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.

Bobbitt National Poetry Prize

Winner of the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award

Winner of the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry

Winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection

Winner of the 2015 PEN Open Book Award

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and finalist in Criticism

Winner of Poets and Writers' Jackson Poetry Prize

One of the Guardian's Best Politics Books of 2015

One of the Guardian's Readers' Books of the Year for 2015

One of Entropy's Best Nonfiction books of 2015

Minnesota Public Radio’s best books of 2015

The Atlantic's best books we read in 2016

Finalist for 2014 National Book Award in Poetry


New York Review of Books

The New York Times

The Guardian


About the author

Claudia Rankine is an award-winning poet, Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, MacArthur Genius grant winner (2016) and a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow.

Born in Jamaica in 1963, Rankine earned her degree in English from Williams College. In her work, Rankine explores the subjective experience of systematic racism and racial aggressions. She uses language that makes visible the ways in which microaggressions register in the body of those who internalize them. Yet her work also seeks to open conversations about how society might achieve social justice.  

She has authored five poetry collections, plays, and edited numerous anthologies.


Claudia Rankine: Articles and Interviews

The Meaning of Serena Williams: On tennis and black excellence (New York Times Magazine)

The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning (New York Times Magazine)

Guardian Interview with Rankine (The Guardian)

NPR Interview with Rankine

Interview with Claudia Rankine in The New Yorker

Interview with Claudia Rankine in Art Forum

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