With a new introduction by Calvin Bedient
Claudia Rankine's second poetry collection, The End of the Alphabet, is an inquiry into despair and recovery, selfhood and alienation. Centered on a heroine named Jane, these poems--obsessive, intrepid, erotic--speak in the aftermath of a life-altering tragedy, attempting to make peace with loss and find redemption through mourning. Rankine writes with unflinching attention to exterior detail and emotional nuance, as well as with linguistic and formal innovation, crafting an extraordinarily powerful, utterly unique portrait of sorrow and strength.
Drawing on voices from Jane Eyre to Lady MacBeth, Rankine welds the cerebral and the spiritual, the sensual and the grotesque, courting paradox into the center of her voice. Whether writing about intimacy or alienation, what remains long after, in searing echo, is this voice--its beguiling cadence and vivid physicality. There is an unprotected quality to this writing, as if each word has been pushed out along the precipice, daring us to go with it. Rankine's power lies in the intoxicating pull of that dare.
Beyond all else, these poems will leave the reader changed, for The End of the Alphabet is the work of one of the most intriguing voices in contemporary poetry.
About the Author
CLAUDIA RANKINE is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.