A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
The poems in Red Trousseau use Los Angeles as a symbol for the seduction of appearances; reality crosses from the Wallace Stevens notion of the sun in "Red Trousseau," “hovering in its guise of impatient tribunal,” to the sun in "Unsent letter.” in which a director reshoots a tarnished sunset so that "the scene, infinite, rebegins” In Muskes poems primary colors dominate, most notably red—the red of Salem burnings, the self-immolation of a political dissident in Prague, and Eros it self, moving like a red shadow over the body of love Stylistically brilliant and emotionally resonant, the poems in Red Trousseau display the work of a master poet at the peak of her craft.
"With Red Trousseau, Carol Muske achieves the insight, emotional accuracy, and terrifying sureness of moral discernment she has always sought. She surveys human relations with an acid clairvoyance through which the reckless currents of personal and cultural history course, ripping away all but the essential tones of the human conversation with its humanity: terror, sometimes courage, excessive need, and the stubborn twin habits of hope and representation. This is urgent and beautifully confident work.’—Jorie Graham