Citizen Read

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ArtsEmerson and American Repertory Theater invite individuals and groups from Boston, Cambridge, and beyond to join us in a dynamic project exploring the construction of race and identity in America.

Citizen Read discussions kicked off in January, and to date, more than 1,300 area residents are participating. Citizen Read facilitated conversations of Rankine’s 2014 New York Times bestselling book of poetry Citizen: An American Lyric in book clubs throughout Boston and Cambridge, a public dialogue featuring Claudia Rankine and book club participants, and an opportunity to attend the world premiere of Rankine’s new play, The White Card.

Official enrollment has closed, but if you or your book group are interested in hosting a conversation about Citizen, please visit this page for a facilitation guide.

Project Timeline

November/December 2017

Applications due no later than December 31, 2017. All applications submitted after this deadline will be placed on a waitlist.

December 2017

ArtsEmerson and A.R.T. staff reviews applications, notifies participants, communicates next steps, and provides curriculum.

January 15-Feburary 2018

Read Citizen: An American Lyric and participate in a facilitated conversation about the book.

March 4, 2018

Attend a Public Dialogue with Claudia Rankine

March 20-22, 2018

Attend a Citizen Read-designated performance of The White Card.*

*All participants must read Citizen: An American Lyric and attend the public dialogue in order to be eligible to buy full-price tickets to designated Citizen Read performances of The White Card.

All are welcome to apply for this project. Participation is free of charge, including access to the project curriculum and facilitators. Participants will be responsible for obtaining their own copy of Citizen: An American Lyric and for purchasing their ticket to The White Card.

All participants must read Citizen: An American Lyric and attend the public dialogue in order to be eligible to buy full-price tickets to designated Citizen Read performances of The White Card. If you have already purchased tickets to The White Card, regardless of performance date, you are eligible to participate in Citizen Read. If you participate in Citizen Read and cannot attend the designated Citizen Read performances of The White Card, you may purchase tickets to other performances subject to availability.



Individuals, who are not affiliated with a group, may register to participate on their own. Individual participants will commit to attending a facilitated conversation hosted at ArtsEmerson or A.R.T. Details are included in the Citizen Read application.


Group leaders affiliated with an existing or new book club or other group may register to participate and will be the point person for facilitating planning and communications. Groups should be comprised of at least 6 people and no more than 30 people.

Leaders will express their preference for facilitated conversation in one of two ways:

(1) Self-facilitation using Citizen Read guide

(2) Citizen Read facilitation at group’s home location or at a community location (as arranged by group)

Group leaders will need the following information for all group participants: Full Name, Email, Phone, Zip Code

For assistance, please call 617.824.3005 or email:

Need to know

Contact: 617.824.3005 |


Read more

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, Citizen: An American Lyric, recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly 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.

Where to Get the Book

Below is a list of possible options to obtain a copy of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Copies of the book may be available at your local library. Books for purchase range in price from $5-20. We recommend purchasing books from our partner, Porter Square Books, located in the heart of Porter Square in Cambridge. You may also find copies of the book at the following locations:


Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library’s mission is to preserve and provide access to historical records of our society, and to serve the cultural, educational, and informational needs of the people of the City and the Commonwealth.

Participating Libraries: please contact the library for information and to sign up.


  • Central Library in Copley Square Point of View Book Discussion Group, (
  • Egleston Branch, 617-445-4340
  • Fields Corner Branch, 617-436-2155
  • Jamaica Plain Branch, 617-524-2053
  • North End Branch, 617-227-8135
  • South Boston Branch, 617-268-0180
  • South End Branch, 617-536-8241
  • West End Branch, 617-523-3957

Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselves is a global educational organization that reaches millions of students worldwide every year. Using the lessons of history—and history in the making—Facing History equips teachers to provide students with the skills to think critically and wrestle with difficult issues. Teachers work closely with students to make personal connections between the past and their present. Our rigorous curriculum sparks their desire to look beyond themselves and participate in the broader world. Facing History is creating future generations of engaged, informed, and responsible decision-makers who when faced with injustice, misinformation, and bigotry, will stand up for justice, truth, and equality. Facing History transforms required lessons in history into inspired lessons in humanity, empowering youth who will change the world for the better.

Museum of African American History

The Museum of African American History inspires all generations to embrace and interpret the authentic stories of New Englanders of African descent, and those who found common cause with them, in their quest for freedom and justice. Through its historic buildings, collections, and programs, the Museum expands cultural understanding and promotes dignity and respect for all.

Notable dates

Contact: 617.824.3005 |


A.R.T. and ArtsEmerson

Boston Public Library
Facing History and Ourselves


Photos & Videos


Claudia Rankine

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A 2016 “Genius Grant” MacArthur Fellow, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. For her book Citizen, Rankine won both the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was the first book ever to be named a finalist in both the poetry and criticism categories); and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives in California and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.