February 14, 2024
On Campus

Bestselling Author and Cultural Critic

Wittenberg Series’ Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture to feature award-winning writer and poet Hanif Abdurraqib

Poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib will be the keynote speaker for the Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture as the 2023-2024 Wittenberg Series continues. The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, in Bayley Auditorium, part of the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center, and is free and open to the public. His address is titled “There’s Always This Year: An Evening with Hanif Abdurraquib.”

Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2021, Abdurraqib hails from Columbus, Ohio. His 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. His first full-length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry and was later named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, along with being nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

Abdurraqib’s first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and 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. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas Press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. A Little Devil In America (Random House, 2021) won the Andrew Carnegie Medal and the Gordon Burn Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award.

His upcoming book, There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension, will be released by Random House on March 26, 2024. Abdurraqib is a graduate of Beechcroft High School in Columbus, Ohio.

Abdurraqib will meet with students and faculty during a Q & A session at 3:30 p.m. in Ness Family Auditorium in Hollenbeck Hall. Of special note, the speaker has asked that attendees wear a mask to all his events, if possible. Masks will be available at each event.

The Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture is presented with appreciation for the life and inspiration of Dr. Koppenhaver through sponsorship by the Ellen, Lloyd, Margaret, and Lanty Smith Endowed Fund for Wittenberg. A distinguished professor, musician, author, and critic, Allen J. Koppenhaver joined the Wittenberg family in 1961 as a member of the English department faculty. For more than three decades, Koppenhaver displayed consummate skill in the classroom, encouraging students to think outside the box as they discovered what is possible within the pages of a book. Recipient of Wittenberg’s top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, and a Fulbright Scholar, Koppenhaver earned an international reputation as a librettist following numerous collaborations with composer Robert “Jim” Haskins, Wittenberg class of 1961. Together the two partnered on such critically acclaimed musical and dramatic projects as The Masque of the Red Death, A Piano Comes to Arkansas, and The Night Luther Died.

The Wittenberg Series was created in 1982 during President William A. Kinnison’s tenure. Since its inception, Nobel Laureates, scientists, significant literary figures, most of America’s foremost modern dance companies, as well as hundreds of prominent psychologists, educators, economists, writers, theologians, urban planners, and historians have visited campus to participate.

Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance.

Remaining 2024 Wittenberg Series Events:

  • Thursday, March 14, 2024: Kenneth H. Sauer Luther Symposium featuring Pastor Drew Tucker, executive director of Hopewood Outdoors Lutheran Camps and author of “4D Formation,” which focuses on vocation for young adults, at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, March 18, 2024: Special Concert featuring Tribe for Jazz with saxophonist Jon Irabagon at 7 p.m. in Weaver Chapel.
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2024: Leventhal Family Lecture, 7 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eli Saslow, currently a writer at-large for The New York Times, who was formerly with the Washington Post

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To make special arrangements or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Katie Warber at kwarber@wittenberg.edu.

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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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