CCAD selects They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by poet and author Hanif Abdurraqib as its First-Year Common Read

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us cover courtesy of Two Dollar Radio. Hanif Abdurraqib portrait by Andrew Cenci.
 They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us cover courtesy of Two Dollar Radio. Hanif Abdurraqib portrait by Andrew Cenci.

Columbus College of Art & Design is pleased to announce that They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by poet and author Hanif Abdurraqib has been selected by the Department of Writing, Literature & Philosophy as the First-Year Common Read for the 2020–2021 academic year. More than 200 incoming students in various classes will read the book, complete related writing assignments, participate in discussions, and attend two author talks, one in late September and one in November. The public is invited to a CCAD Goes Live conversation with Abdurraqib on Instagram on Sept. 24, 2020 at noon EST.  

Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic who was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he lives and works. They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Abdurraqib’s first collection of essays, was released in 2017 by Two Dollar Radio, a nationally recognized small press based in Columbus. It was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. Abdurraqib is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, and a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine. He is also a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet/essayist Eve Ewing.

Other books by Abdurraqib include The New York Times best seller Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest, published by University of Texas Press in 2019; A Fortune For Your Disaster, a collection of poems released in 2019 by Tin House; Vintage Sadness, a limited edition chapbook released with Big Lucks in 2017; and The Crown Ain't Worth Much, released in 2016 from Button Poetry. His forthcoming book, They Don't Dance No Mo', will be published in 2021 by Random House. Abdurraqib’s poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

In They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Abdurraqib examines the sometimes joyful, sometimes painful intersections of popular music and Black lives in the United States by combining music criticism and reportage with introspective memoir. Whether Abdurraqib is documenting years' worth of Fall Out Boy concerts or reflecting on Kendrick Lamar's “Alright,” his essays bear witness to the ways in which Black ambitions, memories, art, and even grief are policed and commodified in the U.S., including in his own hometown.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us is honest, and that’s what our students need and deserve right now,” said Robert Loss, Associate Professor and Department Head of CCAD’s Writing, Literature & Philosophy program. “In Hanif's writing, even the music, art, and culture that you love require the courage of skepticism, the courage to ask the hard questions and to ask them of yourself, too. By selecting his book, we’re inviting first-year students to locate themselves in an urgent cultural conversation as they think about the future they’ll shape as artists, designers, and citizens.”

CCAD’s First-Year Common Read program began in 2012. The shared reading, writing assignments, discussions, and special events with the authors provide a way to unite incoming students and lay a foundation for discussions that will continue throughout their time at CCAD. These objectives are more important than ever given the remote learning environment students will begin the academic year in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time CCAD has selected a book by a local author and has partnered with a local press.

"It is an immense honor to be read at all—to write something that resonates with people,” said Abdurraqib. “For me, that honor increases tenfold when you are being read in a city you love, among people you love, among places that inspired the work."

Learn more about Abdurraqib and his work at Learn more about Two Dollar Radio at

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