Citizen: An American Lyric is a collection of prose, poetry and images that provides a provocative analysis of race in America, with a deep commitment to advancing equality. The author, Claudia Rankine, is a poet, essayist, playwright and the editor of several anthologies whose work explores the blending of genres, the subjects of race and the imagination, and the subjective experience of systematic racism and racial aggressions. Her body of work includes five volumes of poetry, two plays and various essays. She is presently the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University and in 2013 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Citizen has received many accolades and honors, including the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award, the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry (the first book in the award's history to be nominated in both poetry and criticism), the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, the 2015 NAACP Image Award in poetry, the 2015 PEN Open Book Award, the 2015 PEN American Center USA Literary Award, the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award and the 2015 VIDA Literary Award. The book was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize. Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.