— Hanif Abdurraqib,
author of Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press, February)
What has changed you as a writer? I feel charged with representing nothing in the world as small, nothing in the world as mundane. I have grown a deeper gratitude for the idea of production that isn’t entirely based on what I put on the page and more on how I honor the moments of living off the page. All of those things make a return to writing less daunting for me, more full of possibility. What does a perfect writing day feel like to you? It doesn’t always involve writing. Sometimes it’s a trip to the movies in the middle of the day or a run to the market, where a familiar face might pass me, or a walk to the gym, where I see the older dogs who don’t wish for much other than the hand of a passerby to graze over their heads as they slowly and indifferently meander through the grass. All of those things represent a type of writing. Who do you turn to when you feel like you’re losing faith? I’m finding faith in writers who at least attempt to engage with a complicated honesty. I’m into writers who ask and answer with confidence, fully understanding that none of us really know shit. What do you think of when you find yourself avoiding the page? I think of the fact that I come from a people who at one point were jailed or beaten or killed for the act of writing. That doesn’t always send me sprinting back to the page, but it makes clear for me what the stakes are and how privileged I am. What would you say to the ten-year-old you? Your living will remain impossible to believe.
“I believe in writing as one tool to begin society’s slow crawl toward honesty with itself.”