Hanif Abdurraqib, left, is nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He stands to inherit the mantle of Black critic-in-chief from Greg Tate, right, who died in December.
(Megan Leigh Barnard / Robert A Tobiansky / Getty Images )

Los Angeles Times

“Who will inherit Greg Tate’s mantle of Black cultural critic-in-chief? I have a candidate”
March 17, 2022

Boston Globe

“A Message for my Father, from a Stubborn Son”
June 21, 2020

Washington Post

“After 21 years, this D.C. actress is enjoying a ‘season of firsts’”
April 14, 2016


Trouble Sleeping

“Divided into five sections titled ‘blink,’ Trouble Sleeping mimics the rush and exhilaration of our rapidly changing technology. When the poem ‘Broken Sleep in Four Parts’ describes how a natural body reaction—the blink of an eye—becomes a ‘ten-minute film/scratching behind the eyelids, ‘we better understand our bodies’ deep connection to technology. Trouble Sleeping is an AfroSurreal text, one unafraid to describe the multiple ways present-day technologies (film and music) affect the way we live.”

– Mosaic Magazine

More Praise for Trouble Sleeping

“Abdul Ali’s Trouble Sleeping awakens the mind. Like the guts of a marvelous timepiece, the incremental details tick with merciless accuracy and timeless certainty. Urban, gutsy, each poem exposes the conflicts of an inner-city speaker. Yet even in the midst of conflict one believes the voice saying, ‘I love the city.’ Here, popular culture converges with iconic moments of American history; personal and worldly affairs, and a knowing, practiced music holds Trouble Sleeping together as a needful song.”

–Yusef Komunyakka

“This book is an open book. There is no lying in it, no sleep in reading it, no hiding from the person or the place it comes from. The poems are deeply steeped in the African American experience and a tradition I would trace to Langston Hughes and Washington, D.C. where buses are good places for poets. You can write on your lap, read an open book and listen to beautiful conversations. This is what reading Trouble Sleeping is like to me. You get somewhere.”

Fanny Howe, Judge of the 2014 New Issues Poetry Book Prize


Select Works



“On Passing (or Notes toward a Manifesto)”

“Carl’s Barbershop”