Carnegie Mellon University

Camille Rankine

Camille Rankine

Assistant Professor of English

  • BH 260 E
Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 259, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Area of Study

Creative Writing


As a writer, a reader, and a teacher, I am interested in how things work. Both the mechanics of the page—how to tell a story, how to make music from words, how to make your language felt—and the mechanisms at work within our lives, that operate now and have operated throughout our histories, dictating elements of our existence both large and small. 

In my writing, I work through language to dismantle the puzzles the world presents to me. Currently, perhaps the central question is: how did we get here? In my poetry, I’m investigating some of the finer details that arrival: the ideas we have of each other, as defined by race, gender, and nation, the methods by which we have been taught to translate our bodies’ forms into meaning, and how it all filters into the individual psyche. I’m also working on a non-fiction project that examines ideas of identity, inheritance, and nation through the complex lens of a first-generation Black American experience.

I’m the author of the poetry collection Incorrect Merciful Impulses, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2016, and the chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, which was selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America's 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship. I’m also the recipient of a 2010 Discovery Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowments for the Arts, Macdowell, and the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. I’m a graduate of Harvard University and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University School of the Arts.