Claudia Rankine is one of the great poets of our time: an award-winning, acclaimed and beloved champion of social justice who has resolutely challenged racism through her poetry, plays and academic work. Speaking with Sisonke Msimang via video, Claudia responds to and reflects on her groundbreaking Just Us, which uniquely delves into the nature of disagreement and dialogue – about race, class, gender and privilege. Through her contemporary poetic practice, Claudia looks across generations while taking artistic and cultural influences from the past to ask: how can we stay in the same room as one another? 

Claudia Rankine (International)

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March 2020, and The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019; as well as numerous video collaborations. Her recent collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation, was published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She is also the 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 her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Claudia Rankine will join the NYU Creative Writing Program in Fall 2021.

Sisonke Msimang (Australian)

Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang is the author of two books: Always Another Country: a memoir of exile and home (2017); and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela (2018) and has written for a range of publications including The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Guardian and Newsweek.