At McNally Jackson in SoHo, poets Claudia Rankine and Elizabeth Alexander read to a packed house. Rankine’s book, Citizen, is a National Book Award Finalist this year. As you can imagine, I blended into the crowd quite easily, being a bookworm and a scholar, like many others in attendance. I am a large fellow, but you might say I have four hundred and seventy-two pounds of appreciation for the incisive poetess, Ms. Rankine. Many of the entries in Citizen, Rankine explained, were inspired by true stories related to her by victims of racial prejudice. Many of these were shocking, such as the tale of the lawyer pulled over, arrested, and strip searched for no reason, or the examples of everyday discrimination perpetrated unconsciously by the person standing in line at the cafe.
Even at seven feet and nine inches tall, I was not able to stretch my camera over the heads of all the listeners, but Rankine was kind enough to sign this humble bigfoot’s copy of her collection. I hope she accepts this confession as a modest form of gratitude.
Now comes my favorite part – reading the book ostentatiously at the 7th Avenue entrance to Penn Station, with a pair of bespoke wire-rimmed reading bifocals upon my snout.