Books · Poetry · Read in 2023 · Reviews

(poetry) Book Thoughts: A Fortune For Your Disaster (Hanif Abdurraqib)

Poignant, expressive and soul searching

★★★★☆ 1/4 – CALSPIE 8.50

Title: A Fortune for Your Disaster
Author: Hanif Abdurraqib
Genre: Poetry
First published: 2019
Edition: paperback, published by Tin House in 2019

Hanif Abdurraqib has written a book of poems about how one rebuilds oneself after a heartbreak, the kind that renders them a different version of themselves than the one they knew. It’s a book about a mother’s death, and admitting that Michael Jordan pushed off, about forgiveness, and how none of the author’s black friends wanted to listen to “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It’s about wrestling with histories, personal and shared. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside—from Marvin Gaye to Nikola Tesla to his neighbor’s dogs—to create a mirror, inside of which every angle presents a new possibility.


Hanif Abdurraqib is one of my favourite modern poets and essay writers. There is something about the way he tells his stories and creates his poems that just connects with me.

I love his work best when he goes into ‘stream-of-consciousness’ mode, when you can almost hear the cogs in his wonderful brain working and I feel like he is working through something for himself and we, as the reader, are just present to receive his poignant truth.

With this poetry collection there was a little less of that. I still very much felt like I was in his head and seeing the world from his point of view. There’s a urgency to the words and their veiled meanings that just works. Even at the moments when I may not quite register what he means, I still get it, somewhere inside. I am not a black man and I will never fully understand the Black experience, because I have not lived it, but when there are is work like this out there, that makes you think and understand a bit better every time, it can only be a positive thing. I guess that is the power of poetry, maybe even more so than other types of writing, because you feel it through the rhythm of the words.

With Hanif’s poetry (and his essays) I always feel like he’s trying to establish his own identity and place in the world as he is writing and that is exactly what I love about it.

Although this is not my favourite work I have read by him, that is not saying that much, as I have literally loved everything he’s written.

If you have not read any of Hanif’s work yet, I would highly recommend that you do. I love the way he expresses himself and what he talks about.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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