Entertainment & Arts

Claudia Rankine's 'exhilarating' poetry wins Forward prize

Claudia Rankine Image copyright Forward Prize
Image caption Claudia Rankine says her winning collection came about 'by asking friends to share their stories'

Claudia Rankine has won the top Forward Prize for poetry for a work that one critic has described "a fearless confrontation of casual racism".

Rankine, who was born in Jamaica, picked up the £10,000 prize at a ceremony in London on Monday night.

The Forward judges said Citizen: An American Lyric was a "powerful book for our time".

AL Kennedy, chair of the five-strong jury, said: "This is writing we can recommend with real urgency and joy.

"It's a stylistically daring poetic project about the dehumanisation of those deemed outsiders - we found it exhilarating and genuinely transformative."

Rankine's book includes extracts from documentary film scripts, an essay on Venus Williams and screen grabs of Zinedine Zidane's 2006 World Cup head-butt.

"Citizen came about by asking friends to share their stories regarding interactions with either friends or colleagues", Rankine said in an interview before her win. "In this way it is a book about intimacy and race. The form of the collection is both archival and curatorial."

Rankine "eavesdrops on America and a racism that has never gone away," observed Kate Kellaway's Guardian review.

The New Yorker's Dan Chiasson said: "The book explores the kinds of injustice that thrive when the illusion of justice is perfected, and the emotional costs for the artist who cries foul."

Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric won the Forward Prize for the best poetry collection.

The other winners were Mona Arshi, whose Small Hands won the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection. and Claire Harman, who was awarded the best single poem prize for The Mighty Hudson.

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