Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic. He is the author of 2016 poetry collection The Crown Ain't Worth Much (published as Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib), 2017 essay collection They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, the 2019 non-fiction book, Go Ahead in the Rain, on the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and the 2019 poetry collection A Fortune For Your Disaster.

Early lifeEdit

Abdurraqib was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.[1][2] He attended Beechcroft High School [3], where he played on the soccer team.



Columbus is the setting for Abdurraqib's first book, a poetry collection called The Crown Ain't Worth Much (Button Poetry, July 2016).[4] Publishers Weekly's review said, "When Willis-Abdurraqib meditates on the dangers of being young and black in America, the power of his poetry is undeniable,"[5] and the Indiana Review calls the collection "expansive and rich...compassionate, elegiac."[6] Fusion called his "poetry a crash course in emotional honesty."[7] Writing of the collection's titular poem, The Huffington Post said Abdurraqib's "chilling take on black death is heartbreakingly true."[8]

Abdurraqib has been a Pushcart Prize nominee and a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow. PBS's Articulate with Jim Cotter described Abdurraqib as "of a generation that is helping to redefine poetry"[9] and Blavity called him one of "13 Young Black Poets You Should Know".[10] He is a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine[11] and a founder, with Eve Ewing, of the Echo Hotel poetry collective. He edited an anthology of poems about pop music called Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart (FreezeRay Press, 2015).[12] In April 2017 his chapbook Vintage Sadness had a limited edition release by Big Lucks, selling out its print run of 500 copies in just under six hours. In August 2017, he was named the managing editor of Button Poetry. In September of 2019, Tin House will be releasing Abdurraqib's second poetry collection, A Fortune For Your Disaster.[13]

Abdurraqib will be a visiting poet teaching in the MFA program at Butler UniversitAin the fall of 2018.[14][15]


Abdurraqib's writing has appeared in The Fader, The New York Times, and Pitchfork,[16] as well as previously serving as a columnist at MTV News,[17] writing about music, culture, and identity. The Huffington Post named his essay on Fetty Wap's song "Trap Queen" to its list of "The Most Important Writing From People of Color in 2015."[18] Discussing Abdurraqib's essay on the late Muhammed Ali as inspiration to a generation of hip-hop artists, critic Ned Raggett called the piece a "standout" among the many elegies.[19]

Abdurraqib's essay collection They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us was published in November 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.[20] The Chicago Tribune named it to a list of "25 must-read books" for the fall of 2017[21] and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, calling the collection "mesmerizing and deeply perceptive".[22] The book also received favorable reviews from the Chicago Tribune[23] and The Washington Post (where Pete Tosiello described They Can't Kill Us as "a breathtaking collection of largely music-focused essays"),[24] and The New York Times Magazine featured a passage from the collection in the magazine's "New Sentences" column.[25]

Abdurraqib published Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a A Tribe Called Quest in 2019 as part of University of Texas Press's American Music Series,[26][27] edited by Jessica Hopper, David Menconi, and Oliver Wang.[28] It debuted at number 13 on The New York Times bestseller list for paperback non-fiction[29] and received strongly favorable reviews from critics.[30] Reviewers stressed the accomplishment of integrating music history with both a broader history and a more personal one:[31] at Publishers Weekly, Ed Nawotka called it "part academic monograph on the group and its music, part pocket history of hip-hop, part memoir, and part epistolary elegy. It is a book that conveys the wonder of being a fan and the visceral impact of experiencing the feeling of having oneself reflected back in music and pop culture."[32] At NPR, Lily Meyer praised Abdurraqib's "seemingly limitless capacity to share what moves him, which means that to read Go Ahead in the Rain, you don't need to be a Tribe Called Quest fan: Abdurraqib will make you one."[33]

In January 2018, Abdurraqib announced he had signed a two-book deal with Random House;[34] the first book, They Don't Dance No' Mo', will be on the history of black performance in the United States to be published in 2020.[32] The second will be an essay collection following on They Can't Kill Us.[34]

Honors Edit

In 2017, Abdurraqib received an honorary degree in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic.[35] The Crown Ain't Worth Much was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award[36] and nominated for a 2017 Hurston-Wright Legacy award.[37] They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us was named a best book of 2017 by numerous outlets, including NPR,[38] Pitchfork,[39] the Los Angeles Review,[40] the Chicago Tribune,[41] Stereogum,[42] the National Post (Canada),[43] Paste,[44] the CBC,[45] and Esquire.[46]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2017, Abdurraqib moved back to Columbus, Ohio;[47] previously he lived in New Haven, Connecticut.[48]


  • (ed.) Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart (as Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib; FreezeRay Press, 2015)
  • The Crown Ain't Worth Much (as Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib; Button Poetry, 2016)
  • Vintage Sadness (as Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib; Big Lucks, 2017)
  • They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Two Dollar Radio, 2017)
  • Go Ahead in the Rain (University of Texas Press, 2019)
  • They Don't Dance No' Mo' (Random House, forthcoming)
  • Untitled essay collection (Random House, forthcoming)


  1. Lam, Amy (April 28, 2016). "Writer Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib on Poetry & Punk Rock". Bitch Magazine. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  2. Thompson, Erica (July 14, 2016). "People: Poet Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib explores the changing landscape of Columbus". Columbus Alive. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  3. Oller, Julia. "Hanif Abdurraqib's Columbus" (in en). 
  4. Roka, Les (21 June 2016). "Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2016: A closer look at some of the nationally known Literary Arts performers, poets, songwriters". The Utah Review. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  5. "Fiction Book Review: The Crown Ain't Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib". Publishers Weekly. June 20, 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  6. Palomo, Willy (July 8, 2016). "Microreview: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib's The Crown Ain't Worth Much". Indiana Review. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  7. McKinney, Kelsey (July 20, 2016). "Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib's poetry is a crash course in emotional honesty". Fusion. 
  8. Finley, Taryn (25 May 2016). "This Poet's Chilling Take On Black Death Is Heartbreakingly True". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  9. Cotter, Jim (April 27, 2016). "Articulate on PBS | Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Goldberg Variations, Krimes". PBS Articulate with Jim Cotter. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  10. Mendoza, Genesis (5 May 2015). "13 Young Black Poets You Should Know -". Blavity. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  11. Sullivan, Dan "Sully" (February 19, 2016). "Muzzle Magazine: Conversations About History and Aesthetic with Stevie Edwards and Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib". Columbia Poetry Review. 
  12. "FreezeRay Five: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib". FreezeRay. January 3, 2015. 
  13. "Template:Citation error". 
  14. Abdurraqib, Hanif (February 5, 2018). "in a Day Of News: I'm joining the MFA faculty at Butler University this fall, teaching the poetry workshop. This is a real honor and I'm excited for the challenge." (in en). 
  15. Abdurraqib, Hanif (March 16, 2018). "Got my letter of appointment to teach at Butler in the fall on the same day they won their first game of the tournament, gotta be a good sign of something" (in en). 
  16. Roka, Les (21 June 2016). "Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2016: Literary Arts venue - relevant, human, powerful, voluminous". The Utah Review. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  17. Cooper, Julia (2017-01-10). "'This Brief, Bright Collection of Hours': An Interview with Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib". Hazlitt. 
  18. Blay, Zeba (16 December 2015). "The Most Important Writing From People Of Color In 2015". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  19. Raggett, Ned (June 9, 2016). "Ned's Atomic Link Bin: Kim Kardashian: Punk Inspiration, Iranian Rave Busts, When ZZ Top Were the Zombies and More". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  20. "THEY CAN'T KILL US UNTIL THEY KILL US by Hanif Abdurraqib". Kirkus Reviews. October 2, 2017. 
  21. Pearson, Laura. "25 must-read books this fall" (in en-US). Chicago Tribune. 
  22. "Nonfiction Book Review: They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us: Essays by Hanif Abdurraqib. Two Dollar Radio, $15.99 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1-937512-65-1" (in en). Publishers Weekly. August 14, 2017. 
  23. Muyumba, Walton (November 20, 2017). "Hanif Abdurraqib's new collection of music criticism, essays vibrates with soul" (in en-US). Chicago Tribune. 
  24. Tosiello, Pete (2017-12-12). "Review | Hanif Abdurraqib's vital meditation on music — and living and dying in America" (in en-US). Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. 
  25. Anderson, Sam (2017-12-08). "New Sentences: From Hanif Abdurraqib's 'They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us'" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  26. "Dealmaker: University of Texas Press". 
  27. Hopper, Jessica (16 March 2018). "In the American Music Series is @NifMuhammad's forthcoming critical history of Tribe Called Quest. Some previous hitters: Kristin Hersh's Vic Chesnutt bk, Holly Gleason's bk on legacy of women in country, bks from Chris Stamey and Alina Simone" (in en). 
  28. "American Music Series" (in en). The University of Texas Press. 
  29. "Paperback Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers" (in en). The New York Times. February 17, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  30. Szalai, Jennifer (2019-01-30). "An Intensely Personal Tribute to A Tribe Called Quest" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  31. Edgers, Geoff (January 26, 2019). "A true fan offers a riveting tribute to A Tribe Called Quest". The Washington Post. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Nawotka, Ed (January 11, 2019). "WI14: Looking at Our Cultural Moment with Hanif Abdurraqib" (in en). 
  33. Meyer, Lily (February 5, 2019). "In 'Go Ahead In The Rain,' The Love For A Tribe Called Quest Is Infectious" (in en). 
  34. 34.0 34.1 Abdurraqib, Hanif (19 January 2018). "SOME NEWS, FRIENDS. I will be writing two books for Random House. This is very much a dream come true. I hope the books are not bad. Shoutout to Goodie Mob for the title. Shoutout to all the writers who pushed & continue to push me to be" (in en). 
  35. "COA commencement set" (in en-US). Mount Desert Islander. 2017-05-26. 
  36. "Eric Hoffer Book Award Winners" (in en). 
  37. "Hurston/Wright Foundation | Hurston/Wright Legacy Award" (in en-US). 
  38. "NPR's Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2017's Great Reads" (in en). December 5, 2017. 
  39. Carroll, Tobias (November 21, 2017). "Pitchfork's 16 Favorite Music Books of 2017: They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us By Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib" (in en). 
  40. "LAR's The Best Books of the Year - The Los Angeles Review" (in en-US). The Los Angeles Review. 2017-12-15. 
  41. "Best books of 2017: Fiction and nonfiction that moved literature forward" (in en-US). Chicago Tribune. 
  42. Claymore, Gabriela Tully (2017-12-15). "Recommended Reading 2017". Stereogum. 
  43. "The NP99: The best books of the year, vol. 2 (74-50)" (in en-US). National Post. 2017-12-12. 
  44. Jackson, Frannie (December 13, 2017). "The 20 Best Nonfiction Books of 2017" (in en). Paste. 
  45. "The best international nonfiction of 2017 | CBC Books" (in en-US). CBC. December 22, 2017. 
  46. Ledgerwood, Angela (2017-12-14). "The 50 Best Books of 2017" (in en-US). Esquire. 
  47. Abdurraqib, Hanif (2017-12-08). "The Year in Living Alone". Hazlitt. 
  48. "The Conversation: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib and Paul Tran" (in en-US). The 2016-03-28. 

External linksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.