Brené with Hanif Abdurraqib on
Art, Culture, and Black Performance
Hanif Abdurraqib is a beautiful person and an incredible writer, poet, essayist, and cultural critic. His new book, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, took my breath away. Hanif’s ability to straddle the tension of grief and gratitude, beauty and horror, mourning and jubilation is where the miracle and the genius happen.
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 music 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.
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib is 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.
Object of Sound podcast
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