Smoking the Bible

Chris Abani

Forthcoming May 2022

Smoking the Bible is an arresting collection of poems thick with feeling, shaped by Chris Abani’s astounding command of form and metaphor. These poems reveal the personal story of two brothers—one elegizing the other—and the larger story of a man in exile: exile of geography, culture, and memory. What we experience in this emotionally generous collection is a deep spiritual reckoning that draws on ancient African traditions of belief, and an intellectual vivacity drawing on various wisdom literatures and traditions. Abani illustrates the connective geography between harm, regret, and release, as poems move through landscapes of Nigeria, the Midwestern United States, adulthood, and childhood. One has the sense of entering a whole and complex world of the imagination in reading this collection. There is no artifice here, no affectation; and these poems are a study in the very grace of image.

ISBN: 9781556596285

Format: Paperback

Birth Right

Wafer-thin pages brittle with words
and two brothers, one elder. The biblical,
unavoidable here. And there is the rub.
To come to self, to skin, is to rip away another, separate,
tear. Train snaking track, snaking thoughts – window as page, margin as
frame, what is kept within, what slips
away. From beyond the willow’s lazy bow into river,
beyond the crane stabbing for minnows in the
shallows, beyond the reflected sunlight, in a Cathedral
the tint of stained glass,
that addendum to light
that tempers it to grace.

About the Author

Chris Abani is an acclaimed novelist and poet. His most recent books are The Secret History of Las Vegas, The Face: Cartography of the Void, and Sanctificum. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Hemingway Award, an Edgar Award, a USA Artists Fellowship, the PEN Beyond Margins Award, a Prince Claus Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, among many honors. Born in Nigeria, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and …

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“Abani’s radiant seventh poetry collection emanates grit and beauty, while the senses are called to attention.” ―Booklist, starred review