Bedside Books

Why Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman wants you to read Claudia Rankine's poetry collection, Citizen

The musician says Citizen: An American Lyric is an analysis of racism that is relevant in today's political climate.
Andrew Whiteman says Citizen by Claudia Rankine is an important book for all of us to read. (Courtesy Andrew Whiteman)

Musician Andrew Whiteman knows a thing or two about lyrics. He is a guitarist in the musical collective Broken Social Scene, and has a band with his wife, Ariel Engle, called AroarA. Together they were longlisted for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for their EP, In the Pines, which was based on the poetry of Alice Notley. 

Andrew Whiteman spoke with The Next Chapter about Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, and why its analysis of racism is so relevant in today's political climate. 

"It's a meditation on the state of racism in America right now. It's really, really formally interesting and captivating and exciting. It also is incredibly penetrating. There's a refrain in some of these first sections where she says, 'Did you just say that? Did he just say that? Haven't you said this?' It's about noticing these tiny events of institutional and culturally embedded racism that quote, 'people who ought to know better,' practice and indulge in everyday." 

Andrew Whiteman's comments have been edited and condensed.