Also, his face is on a building now. There’s a brightly colored mural on East Main Street, not far from his house, that looks like it glows in the twilight.

“I’m visible enough for three lifetimes at this point,” Abdurraqib said. “At least for my own good, for what I can emotionally handle.”

When he says he likes to mind his own business, he explained, he’s describing an effort to preserve his mental and emotional energy, keeping his focus tight because he has trouble just dipping a toe into something. Recently, for example, he realized he had never had s’mores, and since he has a fire pit in front of his house (he had the grass taken out because he didn’t want to mow it), he decided it was time to try them. So he Googled the best way to make to make s’mores. Three hours later, he looked up and it was dark, he said, and he was still learning about the history of the graham cracker.

“The best parts of my work hone that impulse and thread it through some, hopefully, nuanced and clear articulation of narrative,” Abdurraqib said. “But the part that people don’t see is the s’mores situation.”

His criticism and essays are infused with this, but also with social commentary, memoir, pop culture, and always with poetry. Even the structure of his books sometimes take a poetic slant, like a chapter in “A Little Devil In America” called “Fear: A Crown,” where the last line of each stanza echoes the first line of the next.

“Little Devil” is a book of celebration, but it began as one about the cultural appropriation of Black performance. Roughly halfway through writing it, Abdurraqib said, he realized he needed to focus instead on lifting up the work he found so thrilling.

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