Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib awarded MacArthur Foundation 'genius grant'

The Columbus music critic, essayist and poet is one of 25 to be awarded the $625,000 prize

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Author and poet Hanif Abdurraqib poses for a portrait on Monday, July 12, 2021 at his home in Columbus.

Drivers passing a mural of Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib painted on the East Side of the city will now be passing a mural of MacArthur "genius grant"-winning Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib.

On Tuesday, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the 25 winners of its annual "genius grants," a slate that includes Abdurraqib. He is the third winner from Columbus, following late artist Aminah Robinson, who was awarded the honor in 2004, and installation artist Ann Hamilton, from 1993.

MacArthur winners each receive $625,000 given over five years to do with as they please. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded grants every year since 1981 as a means of helping advance the pursuits of those with tremendous talent. Other winners this year include Ibram X. Kendi, who wrote How to Be an Antiracist, and California neurologist Michelle Monje. Click here to see a full list of winners.

The win continues a remarkable stretch for Abdurraqib, whose most recent book, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, was named a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award earlier this month. This followed an early summer announcement that Abdurraqib would serve as editor-at-large for Portland-based publisher Tin House, where he will develop and edit three books a year.