A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance

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A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance

A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance

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The best international nonfiction of 2017 | CBC Books". CBC. December 22, 2017. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018 . Retrieved January 7, 2018. Just like so many other people across the world, poet Hanif Abdurraqib has had a rough year. He’s well known for his ability to enrapture a crowd with his live readings and storytelling (as well as his infamous book-signing lines that stretch for hours), but a global pandemic has put the brakes on one of the poet, essayist, and cultural critic’s most beloved forms of connection with readers. HA: For me personally, I don’t think the writing of a book gets anyone free. And I don’t think my writing of a book gets anyone free. I mean, there’s a way that this book can adjust some thinking around the full humanity of performers and performance. That’s great. But I think political education and community solidarity and revolutionary upheavals of oppressive state apparatuses — that actually gets people free. That doesn’t mean that I’m ashamed I wrote a book. I’m just not overselling the potential. ... There have been countless books that have been read that I’ve loved, maybe people have loved, and that has yet to shift the cultural consciousness of America on the whole. Perhaps this is a cynical outlook, but I just don’t think that my writing of a book is going to get anyone free. Which doesn’t mean ... Again, I am proud of this book. I’m proud of the work in it. I definitely did my best with the tools I had. And I’m thrilled about that. But I don’t want to oversell the potential for what it can do in the world. My hope is that it is pleasurable to read, and it sends people down some joyful rabbit holes. For Chance, like Franklin, Cornelius, Houston, Baker and local business owners, joy has been made into a brand. As Abdurraqib writes in his previous work, joy is both “hollow and touchable, in part because it is something that can’t be explained as well as it can be visualized and experienced.”

Employing his signature style of skillfully weaving personal essay, lyrical prose, poetry, and cultural criticism, Abdurraqib produces the best, most polished, most accomplished, and perhaps most personal book of his illustrious career. One of the very best books of recent years, A Little Devil in America builds on the foundation of the author’s previous works and explodes expectations into a personal history through lived experience and lifetime joys. It is a book that brims with wonder and introspection while also honoring the significance and contributions of so many of the lives within it. Abdurraqib’s passions are fully on display, and his widespread love is infectious in the best way possible, resulting in a masterwork that will not only move readers but will also send them off into their own personal rabbit holes of joy and wonder. This is, perhaps, the greatest gift a writer can give to his readers, and A Little Devil in America delivers it in spades. VENUGOPAL: Abdurraqib is also the author of "A Fortune For Your Disaster," a collection of poems, and "Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest," as well as the essay collection, "They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us." He's also host of the podcast "Object Of Sound" and "Lost Notes: 1980." Hanif Abdurraqib, welcome to FRESH AIR. Abdurraqib said he set out to write a book “focused primarily on celebration, not grief or not tragedy; I wanted to become a bit of an evangelist and to say, simply, here are some miracles I’ve witnessed and I’d like to share them with you”.The Crown Ain't Worth Much (as Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib; Button Poetry, 2016) ISBN 978-1-943735-04-4 [74] ABDURRAQIB: But then she kind of kept going, and he's like, oh, she's not going to let go. And so you could see him kind of gesture to maybe a producer, and he's like, no, no, no, stop this (laughter). But she keeps going. And finally, he looks over at the crowd and very casually says, do you think I could get in that "Soul Train" line and cut up a bit? And everyone goes wild. Like, people lose their minds. and…. These and’s will make you smile if you choose to read or listen to this wonderful book. Nobody enhances the word AND more than Hanif…with purpose and love… a b "Nonfiction - 70th National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. September 18, 2019. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020 . Retrieved October 23, 2020. SN: You have these fascinating, eclectic interests — pop-punk and emo, hip-hop music, sneakers, fashion — all these things, but does it feel like you need to keep some of that stuff for yourself? There’s that feeling of when you get the job that you’ve always wanted, it becomes less fun and more of a job, right?

Abdurraqib was a visiting poet teaching in the MFA program at Butler University during the fall of 2018. [27] [28] Prose [ edit ] Claymore, Gabriela Tully (December 15, 2017). "Recommended Reading 2017". Stereogum. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018 . Retrieved January 7, 2018. ABDURRAQIB: You know, Mary Wilson is kind of needling him a bit. She keeps kind of - you know, dance with me, dance with me, Don, dance with me. And he's a little uneasy at first. He's kind of flirtatious, and he's like, oh, I'll dance with you any time, you know, in his Don Cornelius voice. HA: No, no. I mean, I think I’m someone who, if there is one strength that I think I have, it’s that I know my limits. And, you know, I have a pretty poor fiction-reading practice that I’m working on. You know, it’s funny, because I grew up reading primarily fiction. And I love fiction. It’s not like I’m averse to fiction. I just kind of feel like I require a level of focus getting into fiction that I haven’t been able to tap into for the past year or so. But a goal of mine this year is to kind of reform and rejuvenate my fiction-reading practice. And when I read good fiction, when I’m present with fiction, it seems like a real impossible task for me to write, you know, where I’m just so in awe of the work. I’m often in awe of poets and nonfiction writers, but I think what I am in awe of those folks — it’s very, like, I find myself asking, “Well, how did this happen?” or “How did this get made?” But I think there’s a part of my brain that can, if not make a path to do that, can make a path to understanding that. But fiction, I’m always kind of like, “I don’t know if there’s any way that I can wrap my head around the crafting of this, or how this was crafted.” Los Angeles Review of Books". Los Angeles Review of Books. November 27, 2019 . Retrieved February 21, 2023.A section that begins with an account of Don Shirley’s career (musician, psychologist, musician again) and then moves onto a discussion of, among other things, the critical success of the films “The Help,”“Crash,” and “Remember the Titans,” comes into focus with these lines:

I AM FLOORED. THIS WAS BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS. I'll review it as soon as I have more time to process. VENUGOPAL: So it seems like the Soul Train Line was celebratory, while the dance marathons were exploitative. Previous winners of the Gordon Burn prize – which is run in partnership by the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Faber & Faber and Durham book festival – include Mina, for her crime novel The Long Drop, and Peter Pomerantsev for This Is Not Propaganda, an investigation into the war against reality. Burn, who died in 2009, was known for nonfiction including Happy Like Murderers, which told the story of Fred and Rosemary West, and the novels Fullalove and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel.VENUGOPAL: He revisits the strange and fascinating life of Herman Poole Blount, who, it is said, went to Saturn, met with aliens and transformed into the influential, otherworldly musician Sun Ra. Sun Ra was a pivotal figure in the development of Afrofuturism. About They Can't Kill Us, a review from Booklist wrote: "Abdurraqib writes with uninhibited curiosity and insight about music and its ties to culture and memory, life and death, on levels personal, political, and universal... Abdurraqib’s poignant critiques, a catalog of the current moment and all that preceded it, inspire us to listen with our whole selves." [51] SN: You can see that in your social media too. It’s so interactive, and it always feels like you’re opening up to more of a larger conversation. And I appreciate that, especially when not as many people are doing that.

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