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June 18, 2022

#Poetry Hanif Abdurraqib

by N@ncy


The Crown Ain't Worth Much by Hanif Abdurraqib by Hanif Abdurraqib Hanif Abdurraqib

Finish date: 16 June 2022
Genre: poetry
Rating: A+++

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much (2016)  ISBN: 9781943735044

Good news:
First poetry book this year…and it is a tricky one to review. Something that I like about Abdurraqib’s style…many others may consider it a minus point. These are not all easy quick poetry reads. You have to sit and invest some quality reading time to extract the genius of this poet. This is a collection of poems that speak to the author’s experiences growing up in east Columbus Ohio. The poems themselves are odes to people that have played pivotal roles within his life. PS: love the bookcover!!

Good news:
Abdurraqib is so skilful in using words to paint scenes of great
emotional insight. Poems in the voice of “The Ghost of the Author’s Mother…” (pg 64, 70) and
“Dispatches From the Black Barbershop, Tony’s chair” (pg 13, 43, 61, 92) are wonderful.
Most touching poems: “Author Writes the First Draft of His Wedding Vows” and “XII” (pg 67) about his grandmother and a flowershop, flower petals…that are finally wilting (death).

Bad news:
The poet loves to pepper many poems with the “&-sign”.
Yes, a poet is free to structure the poem as he/she likes… but 24 x &-signs in 11 sentences
was too much. Strange that just a small “&” kept irritating me and spoiled the reading.

Good news:
Abdurraqib uses a variety of poem structures.
A solid paragraph with no punctuation is a challenge
…but after 10 poems in this style I learned how to read them.
Search for anaphora: repetition of a words or phrasewords….circle them and then a rhythm (be it obscure) slowly rises from the page.

Poetry is personal. You read it or you don’t. There is nothing a review will do to convince you to try Hanif Abdurraqib. But I hope you take time to glance in this book if you see it in the bookstore or library. Reading The Crown Ain’t Worth Much is like eating a rich and dense piece of  wedding cake…hard to digest in anything more than the smallest portions. It is so rich. I read the book between November 2021 – June 2022. I would dip into it and read about 10-12 poems at a time.

Poetry has the power to put many concepts or incidents into a few powerful words.  At the moment gun control legislation in USA is still a problem. In a poem on pg 61. “Dispatches From the Black Barbershop, Tony’s Chair (2011)” ..I found words that really struck a cord with me as I recall the shouts of parents in Uvalde TX.“do something” to curb guns in USA:

“….nothing more lonely than having the POWER to put out the fire….
and not making it rain.



  1. Essays by Hanif Abdurraqib WORTH YOUR READING TIME!! 
  2. Reading tip for #NonFicNov 2022
  3. A Little Devil in America – REVIEW


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