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Mayor Michael Hancock announces citywide program giving away 1,200 copies of "Citizen" by Claudia Rankine during a press conference at the City and County Building Wednesday.
Danika Worthington, The Denver Post
Mayor Michael Hancock announces citywide program giving away 1,200 copies of “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine during a press conference at the City and County Building Wednesday.

Since the start of October, the city has been trying to spur conversations around race and social justice with Denver Talks, a six-week program that culminates Wednesday night with a free public conversation between poet Claudia Rankine and Mayor Michael Hancock.

Denver Talks, a citywide initiative put on by the city, Lighthouse Writers Workshop and other partners, distributed more than 1,600 free copies of Rankine’s book of poetry, “Citizen: An American Lyric.” Another 1,000 people accessed the book, which highlights racism in the modern era, through the Denver Public Library. Additionally, more than 2,000 people have participated in Denver Talk book chats, lectures and arts events.

“Citizen,” which was published in 2014, has won numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the 2015 PEN Open Book Award. Rankine teaches at Yale University and is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

The program is funded by a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts Big Reads grant.

The public conversation Wednesday with Rankine will end with an audience Q&A. So far 1,800 people have signed up to attend the event at the Boettcher Concert Hall on 14th and Champa streets. The event is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP online. The link to register is available under Upcoming Events on DenverTalks.org. Doors open at 6 p.m. The conversation is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

Rankine and Hancock will also hold a student discussion Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Tivoli Turnhalle at Metropolitan State University of Denver. No registration is required.

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