Reading Matters

Claudia Rankine reads Tuesday at Queens

You don’t want to miss what I guarantee will be a knock-out reading tonight by the award-winning poet Claudia Rankine.

If you’re afraid of poetry, simmer down. Most of the time, you won’t even recognize that she’s reading poetry because she mixes it up with prose, essay and converation. But you’ll catch the rhythm of poetry, the powerful beat that gives her words their urgent shape and message.

Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” the only poetry collection to land on the New York Times bestseller list, bristles with indignation and with events and people you’ll recognize -- Serena Williams, Trayvon Martin, Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 WorldCup. As well as the everyday put-downs a black citizen encounters:

“You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.”

Rankine is a former instructor in the Queens University’s MFA program.

She will read tonight at 7 p.m. in Ketner Auditorium on the Queens campus. You’re invited and the event is free.