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Maria Dikcis, Northwestern University

Please Stay Tuned: The Televisual Poetics of Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

Please Stay Tuned: The Televisual Poetics of Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

This paper considers Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004) and its adoption of a "televisual poetics." I propose that Rankine's text rethinks significant aspects of poetic materiality (its typography, language, arrangement on the page), the nature of poetic feeling (its affects), and the structure of poetic address (its communicative situation) through the pervasive staging of the television set as figure, scheme, and interlocutor in the classic I-Thou structure of the lyric. By centering an African-American speaker as a sort of universal subject of encounters with media, Don't Let Me Be Lonely reveals how difference understood as a socio-racial formation becomes a key threshold of dissonance experienced by all viewers of television.