Hanif Abdurraqib

Cindy Seip

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic. His poetry has been published in PEN America, Muzzle, Vinyl, and other journals, and his essays and criticism pieces have been published in The New Yorker, Pitchfork, The New York Times, and Fader. Abdurraqib’s work also includes full-length poetry collections The Crown Ain’t Worth Much and A Fortune for Your Disaster, and The New York Times bestseller Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. Riffing off a few words in a speech made by Josephine Baker at the March on Washington in 1963 (“I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too.”), Abdurraqib examines how Black performance is woven into the fabric of American culture. A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House), explores the 27 seconds of Merry Clayton wailing “rape, murder” in the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” a schoolyard fistfight, and the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt. Each moment adds layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, American politics, and Abdurraqib’s own personal history. “Social criticism, pop culture, and autobiography come together neatly in these pages,” noted Kirkus, “and every sentence is sharp, provocative, and self-aware.”