Claudia Rankine’s second poetry collection, The End of the Alphabet, is an inquiry into despair and recovery, selfhood and alienation. Centered on a heroine named Jane, these poems—obsessive, intrepid, erotic—speak in the aftermath of a life-altering tragedy, attempting to make peace with loss and find redemption through mourning. Rankine writes with unflinching attention to exterior detail and emotional nuance, as well as with linguistic and formal innovation, crafting an extraordinarily powerful, utterly unique portrait of sorrow and strength.
“Nothing is so impressive in The End of the Alphabet as this poet’s ability to sustain over one hundred pages an examination of pain so sensitive, so painstaking, that it nearly outdoes the exquisiteness of the pain itself, its superinventive, invasive, and pervasive ‘life.’ Here, wits at once keen and tenacious match themselves against grief’s genius.” —Boston Review
“What fuels this collection is the emotional current and urgency of the writing. . . . This is a long look into the enervating dark of a postmodern soul fissured by loss. But this is not so much a depressing celebration of darkness as it is an attempt at healing.” —Ploughshares
“Harrowing and hallucinogenic . . . Rankine’s is a singular voice . . . one must admire the risks she takes.” —Library Journal
“It is not facts or events but the experiencing of them that counts here. And the writing never summarizes or reduces these to simples, leaving them instead in the full complexity in which they are encountered. In the amazing subtlety of even everyday contexts lie extraordinary intensities, and it is these that Claudia Rankine has discovered. In her writing, dailiness has the eloquence of the diurnal.” —Lyn Hejinian