I just got an incredible trifecta of poetry books: Phillip B. Williams’ Thief In The Interior, Ricky Laurentiis’ Boy With Thorn, and Camille Rankine’s Incorrect Merciful Impulses. I’m trying to be better at not reading a bunch of books at once, but it has been great for me to digest these three very different poets, and unpack how they navigate the craft. I’m not only really enjoying these books, but I’m finding myself challenged by them. Their work is really pushing mine forward.
What book popped for you in 2015?
I’m not sure if I can pick only one…Like almost everyone, I loved Morgan Parker’s Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night. I love Nate Marshall’s book Wild Hundreds, as someone who is also from the Midwest, and strives to articulate it in my work. Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic was a dope collection of music writing that stays in any bag I carry. It came to me late in the year, but Khadijah Queen’s Fearful Beloved was a game changer.
Whose words do you return to regularly?
I learned to write at the feet of a lot of black women, so the words I return to most belong to them. Alice Walker, Josephine Baker, Octavia Butler, to name a few. Beyond that, I also return regularly to the words of Pete Wentz.
Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?
I feel like I’m in a constant state of waiting for whatever Angel Nafis is going to do next, so I can adjust my life accordingly.
What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?
My first book of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, is coming out from Button Poetry in March. I’m equal parts excited and nervous. Also, I’m working on a collection of poems about the night that the Notorious B.I.G. died, and that’s a lot of fun.
HANIF WILLIS-ABDURRAQIB is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poems and critical essays have appeared in PEN American, Muzzle, Vinyl, Pitchfork, The FADER, MTV, and the New York Times. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, is forthcoming in 2016 from Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press.