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Sundial: Writer Hanif Abdurraqib on the poetry of sneakers, music and home cooking

Hanif Abdurraqib is an award winning poet and writer. He will be hosting O, Miami's opening night on Saturday, April 1.
Courtesy of Hanif Abdurraqib
Hanif Abdurraqib is an award winning poet and writer. He will be hosting O, Miami's opening night on Saturday, April 1.

Hanif Abdurraqib is more than one thing.

He’s the poet Hanif Abdurraqib. His poetry reflects on music and love, and sneakers and prayer.

He’s the journalist Hanif Abdurraqib.

One day he publishes an essay in The New Yorker about musician Marc Anthony Thompson and his cult classic album, Black Music. An album that’s pretty mind-blowing if you, like me, had never heard it.

Another day, he’s writing in the Smithsonian magazine about singer Marian Anderson, who sang in front of an integrated audience for Eleanor Roosevelt.

He’s the author Hanif Abdurraqib. His first book of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was named a book of the year by NPR, Pitchfork and others when it came out in 2017.

Two of his latest books were nominated for the National Book Award. His most recent book, A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance, was published in 2021.

Oh, and he’s the Genius Hanif Abdurraqib. Who won a MacArthur Fellowship. The Genius grant.

Abdurraqib is in Miami for the opening night of O, Miami’s annual poetry festival. He’ll be in conversation with the festival’s founder, P. Scott Cunningham, on Saturday, April 1 at the Lyric Theater in Overtown.

On Sundial's previous episode, playwright Aurin Squire told us about the personal and public heroes that inspired his work. His recent play Defacing Michael Jackson is about hero worship and belonging, told through a group of kids in 1980s Opa-Locka.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Stay in touch with us by emailing us at sundial@wlrnnews.org.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.