Rankine’s Citizen provided challenges for me, as someone who is not as familiar with poetry, but what was particularly interesting to me was Rankine’s use of images on the page. These visual breaks on the page seemed to reflect the experience of the speaker, in which these situations are interruptions of her lived experience in sudden and unexpected ways. What I mean by this is I could not find a pattern to when Rankine placed images on the page, nor could I always figure out why she placed a particular image between particular poems. However, this I interpreted to mean that the visual breaking up of text is a reflection of the breaking of the speaker’s experience from one of being to one of being written upon. In the same way that the speaker experienced these encounters with her friends and colleagues, who either gave “well-meaning advice” or tried including them in their racism, the reader of this book encounters these disruptions of the reading experience with visual representations. There was also the use of stills in the poems paired with the situation videos, which was another interesting use of translating movement and moving media onto the unmoving pages of a book.
This also seemed quite interesting from the perspective of someone who is active on social media, as it seemed reminiscent of black use of social media, in particular twitter. Black twitter’s use of pictures and gifs to accompany the text they have written to express a full range of emotion seems reflected here in Rankine’s book. It is also interesting to see how a very versatile, mobile medium is expressed on the static page of a book. In other words, twitter provides active discourse and actual movement (with the use of gifs, for example), which Rankine, who is using a printed book, is limited by what a page can display. The formatting of the poems on the page also seemed to me to be reminiscent of the twitter display, as viewing the tweets on a phone screen reflects the set up of Rankine’s poems. It is a rectangle of text on the upper half of the page (or screen) which may or may not be accompanied by images and which is often without a title (and often even without the space for a title). The book, then, uses a very visual medium that is recognized as a black space for communication and translates it to print.