cover image A Fortune for Your Disaster

A Fortune for Your Disaster

Hanif Abdurraqib. Tin House, $15.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-947793-43-9

This resonant second collection from cultural critic, essayist, and poet Abdurraqib grapples with physical and emotional acts of violence and their political context. Woven throughout these lyrical meditations on racial tension, heartbreak, friendship, and pop culture, 13 poems titled “How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This” display Abdurraqib’s technical dexterity, particularly with enjambment (“Forgive me, for I have been nurturing/ my well-worn grudges against beauty”), while creating a sense of conditions both inescapable and irresolvable. Abdurraqib’s background in music criticism informs an imaginative series engaged with Marvin Gaye, which in its more effective turns (“your mama so black she my mama too”) combines pathos with affectionate humor. Several poems titled “It’s Not Like Nikola Tesla Knew All of Those People Were Going to Die” explore the human cost of playing God, while elsewhere, poems provide visceral eyewitness sense of everyday life with precise insights: “The mailman still hands me bills like I should be lucky to have my name on anything in this town.” More confessional poems, such as “And Just Like That, I Part Ways with the Only Thing I Won in the Divorce,” create a narrative continuity with the poet’s previous collection; these speakers’ losses may suggest that “true wealth/ is the ability to embrace forgetting,” yet such wry commentary reveals its own hard-won, defiant resilience. (Sept.)