Hanif Abdurraqib


Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook, Vintage Sadness, in summer 2017 (you cannot get it anymore and he is very sorry.) His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. In 2021, he will release the book A Little Devil In America with Random House. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School. Source

The Prestige

the poem begins not where the knife enters

but where the blade twists.

Some wounds cannot be hushed

no matter the way one writes of blood

& what reflection arrives in its pooling.

The poem begins with pain as a mirror

inside of which I adjust a tie the way my father taught me

before my first funeral & so the poem begins

with old grief again at my neck. On the radio,

a singer born in a place where children watch the sky

for bombs is trying to sell me on love

as something akin to war.

I have no lie to offer as treacherous as this one.

I was most like the bullet when I viewed the body as a door.

I’m past that now. No one will bury their kin

when desire becomes a fugitive

between us. There will be no folded flag

at the doorstep. A person only gets to be called a widow once,

and then they are simply lonely. The bluest period.

Gratitude, not for love itself, but for the way it can end

without a house on fire.

This is how I plan to leave next.

Unceremonious as birth in a country overrun

by the ungrateful living. The poem begins with a chain

of well-meaning liars walking one by one

off the earth’s edge. That’s who died

and made me king. Who died and made you.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Ars Poetica

Death & Loss

Poetic Form

Violence & War

Literary Devices:


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Media Res

a literary work that begins in the middle of the action (from the Latin “into the middle of things)


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”