Poet, essayist and cultural critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib will be the keynote speaker at College of the Atlantic’s 2017 commencement celebration on June 3. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

Willis-Abdurraqib to speak at COA commencement



BAR HARBOR — Poet, essayist and cultural critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib will be the keynote speaker at College of the Atlantic’s 2017 commencement celebration on Saturday, June 3.

Willis-Abdurraqib’s poetry has been published in “Muzzle,” “Vinyl,” PEN American and other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in “The Fader,” Pitchfork, and The New York Times. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and his poem “Hestia” won the 2014 Capital University poetry prize.

“Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s work is tremendous. His masterful writing expresses an incredible degree of thoughtfulness and curiosity with the world,” said COA President Darron Collins ’92. “Hanif is a performer, a music scholar, a social critic and a purveyor and analyst of place. He’s also an amazing human being, and we’re excited to have him.”

Willis-Abdurraqib’s first full-length collection, “The Crown Ain’t Worth Much,” was published in 2016 from Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, and a poetry editor at “Muzzle” magazine. He is a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet-essayist Eve Ewing. Additionally, he is a columnist at MTV News, where he writes about music.

College of the Atlantic’s 44th commencement is set for Saturday, June 3, at 2 p.m. COA philosophy professor John Visvader will be grand marshall of the entrance processional. Willis-Abdurraqib will receive an honorary Master of Philosophy degree in human ecology, as will COA alumna Cathy Johnson ’74 and former COA professor Etta Kralovec, who is now associate professor of teacher education and program director of graduate teacher education at the University of Arizona South.

College of the Atlantic was 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.