Poet Hanif Abdurraqib to speak on ‘place’ for The Co’s lecture series

Writer, poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib will pull from his Ohio roots in his Thursday “Conversations” lecture for The Contemporary Dayton.

Abdurraqib will be in conversation with The Co’s curator and director of programs Michael Goodson at the Tank in the Dayton Arcade at 6 p.m. March 2 for the first installment in the lecture series.

“Dayton is a city that means a lot to me,” Abdurraqib said. “Dayton has a really rich history that intrigues me, and also, I just I love the city. I’ve always loved the city and any opportunity I get to read or talk or hang out there’s always one I take advantage of.”

He is the author of award-winning poetry collections “A Fortune for Your Disaster” and “A Little Devil in America” and the essay collection “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us.” Abdurraqib said he drew from three potent themes when working on his collections.

“A lot of my poems I think are grounded in place and memory and heartbreak,” Abdurraqib said. “And some intersection of those three things, I think, is kind of what’s working most in the poems.”

Place weighs heavy on Abdurraqib, and he said he plans to focus his Conversations lecture on being grounded in place.

“Most of my talk will probably revolve around place and staying in place,” Abdurraqib said. “I live in Columbus. I’m going to hopefully live in Columbus for the rest of my life.”

Born and raised in Columbus, Abdurraqib said people don’t often hear Ohio talked about in that context. There is not much excitement about living and working in Ohio and very few conversations about staying here, he said.

Abdurraqib also noted fostering relationships with those around him and in his community builds to and goes beyond what he writes in his books. He said it all stems from “a desire to feel closeness or some small reminders that the world is not entirely isolating.”

“I’m someone who relies on human connection and human interaction in order to build out not just ideas, but also faith in the world that I don’t always find comfortable or pleasurable,” he said.

In an effort to continue that conversation and build those connections, Abdurraqib plans to continue reading, learning, writing and speaking at community talks around the country. He will also be the Nowik Writer-in-Residence for the 2023-2024 academic year at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, which he said was another way to reach and build relationships with younger writers.

At The Co lecture, Abdurraqib will read from his upcoming project, a book that will be released in 2024. He said he has a year to be a fan of other’s work and keep reading as much as he can before his book is out in the world.

Abdurraqib’s lecture is free to attend and open to the public. Advanced online registration is required. To register, visit https://codayton.org/conversations/.


What: Hanif Abdurraqib’s “Conversations” lecture with The Co

When: Thursday, March 2 at 6 p.m.

Where: The Tank at the Dayton Arcade; 35 W. Fourth St., Dayton

More Information and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversations-hanif-abdurraqib-tickets-520865160717

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