Episode 13: Hanif Abdurraqib

Books Mentioned on The Spine

  • Berenstain Bears series by Stan, Jan & Mike Berenstain
  • Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
  • Choose Your Own Adventure series by R. A. Montgomery
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
  • Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  • Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips
  • Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez
  • Cruelty: Poems by Ai
  • Negro League Baseball by Harmony Holiday
  • dying in the scarecrow's arms: Poems by Mitchell L. H. Douglas
  • I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On by Khadija Queen
  • "We Should Make a Documentary About Spades" by Terrance Hayes (poem)

Writers Mentioned

  • Tennessee Williams
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Suzan-Lori Parks
  • Upton Sinclair
  • Rita Dove
  • A. Van Jordan
  • Jessica Hopper
  • Lester Bangs

Memorable Quotes

  • “I will take any opportunity I can to talk about books.”
  • “There’s something about a play where there’s so little room for wasted language. Because everything has to sing. Everything has to operate as somewhat musical even if it’s not set to music. I got very excited about what I was seeing in texts of play in high school.”
  • “When you’re in ninth grade and you’re worried about fitting in, you just want to be as cool as possible. So I’d always just sneak read. I wouldn’t want people to see me reading.”
  • “If I would be suspended from school, it would be a really welcome thing (though I’m sure my dad did not like it) because I could just read at home.”
  • “Talking about music is like talking about reading. To talk about lyrical context or to talk about tone, or to talk about an emotional landscape built in a song is another way to talk about reading.”
  • “Reading Lester Bangs was like having a conversation with the friend I’d always wanted. It felt like someone who was talking to me about music like I would talk to someone I loved about music.”
  • “I think the music profile now is so frequently trying to sell a reader on something: The musician is trying to sell the reader on something, and the writer is trying to sell the reader on something. I like that Lester Bangs went into his profile on The Clash demanding that The Clash sold him on what they were trying to do.”
  • “I think a failure in music writing and in the consumption of music writing and why criticism has begun to stand on pretty shaky ground is because so many people imagine criticism as an act of distaste only. ...To write critically about something is to ask it to reach its full potential. It’s to push it to be better or to take it to task for the ways it could’ve succeeded, and for me, that’s an act of immense care and an act of love.”
  • On Shakespeare: “I’d gotten into the hits first, but then I got into digging in the crates."
  • On Walter Dean Myers: “He was an archivist in some ways. …He was articulating his past, he was articulating his history, but he was just doing it through the lens of his characters.”
Hanif Abdurraqib, guest of The Spinde podcast