Read By: Hanif Abdurraqib - 92Y, New York

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Read By: Hanif Abdurraqib

Nov 22, 2020

Hanif Abdurraqib on his selection: 

“In Defense of Karaoke” by Marianne Chan is an interesting choice for me, as someone who is always too anxious to engage in the act of singing at any karaoke night, but there is something I love about being present during a karaoke night. And what I think I love about seeing the kind of excitement that fans through a room or that fans through one of my friends when they’re on stage, singing a song that they know they know, is that karaoke is in some ways the height of the communal exercise of enjoying music. There is no real hierarchy; the person who is singing on the stage is not the profession who wrote the song; it almost in someways does not matter if they sing the song well. What matters is that they sing the song with a kind of unbridled enthusiasm that can tremor through a crowd and get that crowd to also tilt towards a type of ecstasy, knowing that they know a song too. It is this really, to me, fascinating mold of music and music enjoyment. So watching a friend of mine transform into someone entirely different onstage, and through that transformation, this grand excitement—it allows me to hear a song differently. And I think this poem encompasses that. And I think this poem celebrates a moment of loving music in a way that feels familiar to me—the interior love of a song—where a song becomes more what we need it to be, more than what it might have been.  

All Heathens at 


Intro and outro from "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0

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