In her most recent book of poetry and lyric essays, Citizen, Claudia Rankine includes a number of “Scripts for Situations,” in memory of such people as Trayvon Martin and James Craig Anderson. Some of Rankine’s scripts serve as filmscripts, a point of origin for the short films made by her partner John Lucas. More generally, though, the scripts offer a set of imaginative instructions for approaching contemporary violations of human rights, for empathizing with victims of microaggressions, police brutality, and corrupt systems. Rankine asks us to put ourselves “in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside, within” (131) these victims and their experiences. That is exactly what Sarah Hirsch has done in her “Situation Script” for India Kager, an unarmed woman who was shot and killed by Virginia police in September, 2015.

Sarah was a student in WR 100 “Reading Disaster: #FergusonSyllabus,” which used creative texts as a lens onto contemporary racial injustice and violence. For Paper 2, Sarah opted to write a research-based Situation Script and Afterword that continued Rankine’s project. In her script, Sarah uses facts and found texts, while acknowledging the limitations of pure fact by making imaginative gestures and the more common tools of poetry (like imagery and repetition) relevant in conveying the emotional truth of Kager’s life and death. Proceeding from a gap in the national conversation (the sometimes-fatal consequences of invisibility for black women) and using texts the class read as models, Sarah creates a stunning elegy for someone who should not have died as she did.

WR 100: Reading Disaster