BAR HARBOR — Poet, essayist and cultural critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib will read from his work and take questions about his writing at the Lompoc Café on Saturday, Feb. 18, beginning at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. The free, all-ages event is part of the Bateau Reading Series.
Willis-Abdurraqib, a music columnist at MTV News, has been published in “Muzzle,” “Vinyl,” PEN American,” “The Fader,” “Pitchfork” and The New York Times and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
“Hanif’s Willis-Abdurraqib’s poetry is simply stunning,” said College of the Atlantic writing professor and Bateau Press Editor-in-Chief Dan Mahoney. “One of the student editors at Bateau sent me some of his work, and I knew we needed to get him here. His work is a great mix of poetic traditions: lyrical and narrative, performative and meditative, punk rock and hip hop. It’s all there in his writing.”
The poems in Willis-Abdurrraqib’s first full-length collection, “The Crown Ain’t Worth Much” (Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press 2016) are striking for their immediacy, Mahoney said. They show the author grappling with growing up in inner-city Cleveland as he takes the reader on walks through streets littered with black lives, broken glass and stolen high tops. A myriad of voices fill Willis-Abdurraqib’s work: a wise old barber, a dead mother, neighborhood bullies and young men living and dead, Mahoney said.
“Although we hear a singular voice in this collection, this is also poetry of community,” Mahoney said. “Like a modern-day Whitman, Willis-Abdurraqib laces up his sneakers, sets his hat on his head and catalogues the joys and sorrows of America.”
Bateau Press, a letterpress publisher of chapbooks and an annual magazine, is committed to producing high-quality, well-designed, environmentally minded products. As of 2016, Bateau is housed within College of the Atlantic.
College of the Atlantic is the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. In 2016, both The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club named College of the Atlantic the No. 1 “Green College” in the United States. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines.