Marygrove Celebrates 28th Contemporary American Authors Lecture

Event to feature award-winning poet Claudia Rankine

DETROIT, March 15, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- To commemorate its twenty-eighth year of bringing nationally-known authors to its campus for a public lecture and seminar, Marygrove's Department of English and Modern Languages is pleased to announce that award-winning poet and playwright Claudia Rankine will be the featured guest at its Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS) event.

In addition to delivering the Lillian and Don Bauder Lecture at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2016, Rankine will also host a master class for Detroit-area high school students and teachers beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the Marygrove College Theatre.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, and Nothing in Nature Is Private (1995), winner of the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. She is also author of two plays: Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue (2009) and Existing Conditions (2010), along with several edited collections.

Critics frequently note the experimental and intense nature of Rankine’s oeuvre, particularly in her most recent collection of poetry, Citizen. The Washington Post contends, "Part protest lyric, part art book, Citizen is a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of black life in America," and The New York Times declares, "Citizen is audacious in form…. it has achieved something that eludes much modern poetry: urgency." Written with equal parts intensity and compassion, Citizen is a veritable force that Hilton Als professes, “Comes at you like doom. It’s the best note in the wrong song that is America.” This timely collection of poetry has garnered national attention in the presidential campaign, generating debate over the role of reading as protest.

CAALS will also celebrate this year’s event by featuring a master class conducted by Rankine for Detroit-area high school students. Over 300 students and teachers from Fordson, Cass Technical, Cody, Ferndale, Martin Luther King, Loyola, Detroit School for the Arts, University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Detroit International Academy for Young Women, and Inside Out Literary Arts Project will attend the class which begins at 10:00 a.m. in the Marygrove Theatre. Winners of the Mary Helen Washington Writing Contest will be recognized as well. Afterwards, students will enjoy lunch and a tour of the Marygrove College campus.

Claudia Rankine will deliver the Lillian and Don Bauder Lecture at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2016 in Alumnae Hall on the Marygrove College campus.

Afterward, she will sign copies of her books, which will be available for purchase.

The evening lecture is free and open to the community.

Support for this year’s CAALS event is provided in part by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Claudia Rankine, contact Erin Piscopink at 313-927-1438 or You may also visit:

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. For her book Citizen, Rankine won both the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry (Citizen was the first book ever to be named a finalist in both the poetry and criticism categories); and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in California and holds the Aerol Arnold Chair in the University of Southern California’s Department of English.


The CAALS series, now in its twenty-eighth year at Marygrove, is an annual event bringing a nationally-known author to its campus for a public lecture and seminar with students. 

It began when the late Frederick P. Currier, a former Marygrove College trustee, attended a reception on campus and remarked that he would like to bring a national writer to Marygrove for a weekend. Mr. Currier’s start-up check soon followed his suggestion, and on April 21, 1989 nearly 600 guests of the College heard Gloria Naylor inaugurate the series.

The series has flourished thanks in large part to the generosity of Lillian and Don Bauder whose endowment supports the evening lecture as well as the Mary Helen Washington Writing Contest in which local high school students respond in writing to the visiting author’s works.

To date, nearly 10,000 people have joined Marygrove at the Friday night public readings to hear outstanding writers share their work.


Founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) in 1905, Marygrove College is an independent liberal arts college and a Catholic institution of higher learning. The College’s commitment to the city of Detroit comprises an institutional mission and vision for developing urban leaders. The main campus is situated on 53 wooded acres in northwest Detroit.

8425 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit, MI 48221

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