Join us for a special virtual event with Hanif Abdurraqib, for the release of his new essay collection, A Little Devil in America.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a New York Times bestselling poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in PEN American, Muzzle, Vinyl, and other journals. His essays and criticism have been published in The New Yorker, Pitchfork, The New York Times, and Fader. He is the author of the poetry collections, The Crown Ain't Worth Much and A Fortune for Your Disaster, the essay collection They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us and Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. Abdurraqib was named guest curator at large at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) beginning in January 2021 and is the host of the new SONOS podcast Object of Sound. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.
At the March on Washington in1963, Josephine Baker was fifty-seven years old, well beyond her most prolific days. But in her speech she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. “I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too,” she told the crowd. Inspired by these few words, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines—whether it’s the twenty-seven seconds in “Gimme Shelter” in which Merry Clayton wails the words “rape, murder,” a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt—has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib’s own personal history of love, grief, and performance.