Claudia Rankine: Artistry As An Immigrant Poet

Claudia Rankine is a United States-based poet who was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Rankine has published many books, poems and is even working on some plays. Her work aims to bring light to the injustices that Black and Brown people face in the U.S. specifically, and provides stories and visuals on what they experience.

 Claudia Rankine - photo of the author
Author photo of Claudia Rankine taken by John Lucas and used by permission of the photographer.


According to the website “On Being” Rankine is an immigrant and it wasn’t until she was 7-years-old when she moved the the United States. She continued her education in the U.S. and found her love for poetry at the colleges that she attended. These Colleges were Williams College and Columbia University.

Rankine makes it a goal of hers to bring light to the injustices that people of color face. According to the NewStatesman,”The Jamaican-born poet Claudia Rankine has reversed the way we frame and talk about race by focusing not on black victimhood, but on the construction of whiteness.”


As an immigrant, Rankine’s mother taught her a lot before coming to the U.S. Rankine describes this in an interview with On Being. “When we came to the United States, my mother said — she had two things, two things that she believed, in any case. One was that public school was awful. And two — and she did say this to me — you cannot trust white people.”

This influenced her writing. The more that she noticed what her mother meant by this, the more she became an advocate for these communities.


Her writing has brought her very far from where she came. On her website Claudiarankine.com it states that she has won many awards because of her work

“Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine received 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.” 

These awards further prove that she has made an impact on her audience and continues to do so. They also show that she is continuing to do her work and spread her word further. She currently teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

Emigrating from Jamaica to the U.S., Rankine has learned a lot when it comes to how people are treated differently. She has portrayed this through her work and has been recognized for it and has changed many views and lives.

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