Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric” as Want to Read:
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,113 Ratings  ·  223 Reviews
In this powerful sequence of TV images and essay, Claudia Rankine explores the personal and political unrest of our volatile new century.

I forget things too. It makes me sad. Or it makes me the saddest. The sadness is not really about George W. or our American optimism; the sadness lives in the recognition that a life cannot matter.

The award-winning poet Claudia Rankine,
Paperback, 155 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Graywolf Press (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If I could, I would give this book ten stars. It is an amazing, lyrical meditation on loneliness, death, and American after 9/11 with an interesting thread throughout about pharmaceuticals and mental health. This is a superlative book of prose poetry. I found myself marking nearly every page with an idea or moment or phrase I never want to forget.

S. Donovan
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
As a literary genre still fighting for an ironic legitimacy, prose poetry received a Hail Mary the length of Doug Flutie's 1986 game-winning touchdown pass when Claudia Rankine published this book.

Not since I first discovered Baudelaire or Carolyn Forché have I felt I understood what "real" or "good" prose poetry is, or could become, until reading "Don't Let Me Be Lonely."

Many L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E/prose poetry authors once railed against the rigidity and creative bankruptcy of a standardized academi
Julie Ehlers
Don't Let Me Be Lonely was published 14 years ago but still feels so timely. It's mainly about pharmaceuticals and life in the United States after 9/11, which sounds a bit random, but it ends up exploring the intersection of the personal and political quite well. Remarkably, it also foreshadows our current moment, providing some amazing insights on how we got to where we are now. If I had one complaint it's that there could have been a bit more unity among all of these short pieces, but frankly ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, library
I came to Rankine's work through Citizen: An American Lyric, and it was one of the best books I read in 2016. Don't Let Me Be Lonely, written a decade earlier, was very similar in style - prescient, quirky, and jaw-dropping - but didn't carry the same "oompf" for me as Citizen.

Still worth all 5 stars - a time capsule of the years right after 9/11, and a running thread of mental health, pharmaceutical treatments, and a family crisis - but hard for me to rate as high as the later work - maybe tha
Ceren Uzuner
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Omarm dit boek. Hou het bij je. Heel dicht bij je.
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ah, you win, Claudia, for what's basically eighteen blogposts bound up as a book. You might have even gotten 5 stars out of me if it weren't for your ending, which didn't wrap back around to the personal in any way I found satisfying, but was probably meant to be some big-hearted opening out into the political, and I'm at fault as a reader for not respecting that, but it felt tacked on. Like, you just exited throwing a few quotations over your shoulder. Don't get me wrong I'm all FOR Fanny Howe ...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: merkins, poems, distaff
Perhaps a little dated, but if a poet can’t wax about the world now, or then, or now as it was then, what world are we living in? We’re not living in the world now, thassfursure, we’re living in the world then. When topical poems were out. (When this then is, I am uncertain. But let it be said poems about eating cheese in 1907 are hardly taught on campuses—or is it campi?) Anywho. This brisk series of prose-poems or prose lyrics ruminates coolly on contemporary America: scraping away at the dark ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
i wish this book had never ended.
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
This book functions so beautifully as a whole, a genre of its own.

. . . Perhaps we
are not responsible for the lives of our parents--not in
our pores or our very breath. We can expect. We can re-
solve. We can come to terms with. Afterwards we wear
their clothing, sit in their chairs, and remember them.
Profoundly remember them. But we are not responsible. (63)

Cancer slowly settled into her body and lived off it until
it, her body, became useless to itself. A hell of a way
to lose weight, she says whe
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i'm borrowing this book and i don't want to give it back. i remember a time when i used to hate any poetry outside of rap music. but poetry is where you can do experimental prose and essay. i have to hang up my anti-poetry chops. you can resist narrative. you can chip away at the numbing opacity until you hit elusive subtleties and then you're talking about something you probably wouldn't be able to get away with talking about in any other format. it's been well established that poetry is the go ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites, poetry
As with many others, I first encountered Rankine’s work through Citizen, which inspired me to read her other collections. I was pleased to find that Don’t Let Me Be Lonely anticipates many of the stylistic features that I found so compelling in Citizen, be it the collection’s fragmented structure, its evocative juxtaposition of text and image, or its refusal to answer the many questions that it raises.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I will write a longer review when I have some time but this book is, as is every other book I've read by Rankine, seriously compelling. The language is exquisite and the examination of life in America (in 2003) powerful. I can't wait to read this book again, along with every other book Rankine has written.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
!!!!!!!!!!!! 10/5 stars
Callum McAllister
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always down for a ~150 page meditation on death. Much like Citizen but obviously of its time in that it talks more about television, the Iraq War, 9/11 etc.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Really great construction and writing. It is also a great page-turner and the perfect balm for unquestioned joy. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy it and appreciate it, merely that reading it should probably be done with some sound self-judgement.

Rankine explores the commonplace attributes that form constellations within and around American lives. Expounded are broad themes of death and loneliness and specificity within depression, medication, television, race, and relationships. Though the
Li Sian
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not as sharp and pointed as Citizen but definitely one I'd recommend, Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely is a meditation on loneliness, death (both physical and spiritual), and the toxicity of America's cultural optimism. Written in the Bush-era years, Rankine takes on 9/11, the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, big pharma, Anthrax and cancer, and weaves these references into a thoughtful and uncomfortable essay about how America approaches death and isolation (her ostensible diagnosis: delayi ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd be happy reading a new prose poem by Claudia Rankine basically every day from here to forever.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Dont let me be lonely,' is deel van een kleine hoeveelheid werken die de scheidingslijn tussen poëzie en proza sterk bevraagt. Maar ook het concept van de autobiografie en het gebruik van afbeeldingen voegen toe aan de gelaagdheid van dit werk, hoewel de afbeeldingen, met hier en daar een uitzondering, vaak helaas (te) weinig toevoegden. Hoe dan ook maken deze eigenschappen het werk zeker het lezen waard. Helemaal vanuit een vormtechnisch oogpunt. Verder:

De taal is sterk. De treffendheid van de
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lyric
An amazingly poignant read for the current political climate that helped me clarify many of the feelings I have as I watch the theatre of American politics while people everywhere are dying, especially as someone who lived through the Bush presidency as a child.

Rankine's prose poems range thematically from 9/11 and the invasion and occupation, mental illness and the psychiatric industry, to meditations on loneliness and death. Prose poetry is new for me and not always something I can fully immer
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mental-health
i appreciate a story told in fragments and threads. i like it when these fragments and threads mirror or build how people fit together in experience. i especially like it when one of the main threads is the body & in this book, am fascinated by the thread of the liver & the things that impact it.

i think this is what maggie nelson thinks she's doing but she's too tokenizing and self-centered to get it right? where claudia rankine uses personal & relational experience to illuminate thi
Delia Rainey
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An unreal book. Claudia Rankine goes through her mundane life, sleeping with the tv on, reading the labels on medicine bottles, flashes of American cruelties and violence against black men and children fade over the screen, and voices in her head are saying "is he dead? is she dead?" Rankine's fragments with pictures of the television and diagrams of the body with the map of the U.S. inside, next to the malfunctioning liver - a metaphor for medicated & depressed America, and how we soak up a ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even though I loved reading Citizen for it's powerful messages, I think Don't Let Me Be Lonely is really the Claudia Rankine book I needed to read right now.

Grief runs the gamut from the profound to the mundane and Ms. Rankine explores all of it. Don't Let Me Be Lonely is a snapshot of a time, a few years post 9/11. Compared to now, it almost seems like simpler times. But interspersed with ruminations on grief and pharmaceuticals, it all comes together.

Ms. Rankine's thoughts are so elegant, lik
Alice Lesperance
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I bought this in a poetry bookstore, which I find kind of funny because Claudia Rankine absolutely resists genre in every move she makes. If you want to read a small, strange book about death, read this one.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not a bad collection of poetry/essays...Claudia Rankine writes wonderful prose. Definitely worth reading.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
always worth your time reading Claudia Rankine
Matt Koester
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really brilliant, multimedia embracing book. It's over ten years old now, but its politics are still fresh as its presentation. Highly recommended.
Maya Smart
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” is an evocative exploration of loss. The book of poetry and prose vignettes opens with author Claudia Rankine as a child witnessing her father looking flooded, leaking, breaking, broken. He was grieving his own mother’s death, and Rankine climbed the stairs as far from him as she could, distancing herself from his unfamiliar expression.

“He looked to me like someone understanding his aloneness,” she writes.

The rest of the book ranges over the territory of loneliness–mour
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
9/11 was such a large event in the "cultural conscience" and it makes a great basis for any book (especially a poetry prose book). However, this book is much more it talks about mental health, death, race and family.
I was a fan of the use of static televisions (A great visual clue and a good tool for "natural pausing" between each poem)
Jim Elkins
Mar 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american
The rating is just for the use of images: I am researching the theory and history of books written with images. (

"Citizen" raises different issues. (The review is elsewhere on this site.) In "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" the use of images seems mnemonic, evidentiary, decorative, offhanded, generic, unformatted, and therefore almost always uninteresting. In order:

1. Mnemonic: the many images of people Rankine describes, such as Abner Louima, Johnny Cochrane, Amadou Diallo (pp. 56
Roz Ito
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, theory, memoir
Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely is in many ways a meditation on how we desperately need the Romantic poetic spirit now more than ever. The book is subtitled “An American Lyric,” and that is an apt description for it, the paradox of the lyric (traditionally private & individual) as spoken through the communal. I think Rankine is making an ethical call here that favors the communal lyric over the communal epic. This book was published in 2004, after 9/11 and the start of the wars in I ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Deepstep Come Shining
  • Sleeping With the Dictionary
  • Cocktails
  • My Life
  • Humanimal: A Project for Future Children
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • The Pajamaist
  • Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You
  • Teeth
  • I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl: Poems
  • Plainwater: Essays and Poetry
  • The Book of Frank
  • The Body: An Essay
  • Wind in a Box
  • Coeur de Lion
  • The Babies
  • Some Ether
Claudia Rankine is an American poet and playwright born in 1963 and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and New York City.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including "Citizen: An American Lyric" and "Don’t Let Me Be Lonely"; two plays including "The White Card," which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson and American Repertory Theater) and will be published with Graywolf Press in 20
“Forgiveness, I finally decide, is not the death of amnesia, nor is it a form of madness, as Derrida claims. For the one who forgives, it is simply a death, a dying down in the heart, the position of the already dead. It is in the end the living through, the understanding that this has happened, is happening, happens. Period. It is a feeling of nothingness that cannot be communicated to another, an absence, a bottomless vacancy held by the living, beyond all that is hatred or love.” 10 likes
“Sad is one of those words that has given up its life for our country, it's been a martyr for the American dream, it's been neutralized, co-opted by our culture to suggest a tinge of discomfort that lasts the time it takes for this and then for that to happen, the time it takes to change a channel. But sadness is real because once it meant something real. It meant dignified, grave; it meant trustworthy; it meant exceptionally bad, deplorable, shameful; it meant massive, weighty, forming a compact body; it meant falling heavily; and it meant of a color: dark. It meant dark in color, to darken. It meant me. I felt sad.” 7 likes
More quotes…