Hands Washing Water

( 5 )

Overview

“Chris Abani’s poetry resonates with a devastating beauty which cuts through to the heart of human strength.”—Pride

Hands Washing Water is Chris Abani's fourth poetry collection—a mischievous book of displacement, exile, ancestry, and subversive humor. The central section, “Buffalo Women,” is a Civil War ...

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Hands Washing Water

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Overview

“Chris Abani’s poetry resonates with a devastating beauty which cuts through to the heart of human strength.”—Pride

Hands Washing Water is Chris Abani's fourth poetry collection—a mischievous book of displacement, exile, ancestry, and subversive humor. The central section, “Buffalo Women,” is a Civil War correspondence between lovers that plays on our assumptions about war, gender, morality, and politics.

Sweetest Henri,
I know we promised to be honest,
one to the other, but your recent missive,
though welcome as any epistle from you,
filled me with a dread that clung
like dampness to wet wood. I am terrified
for your immortal soul, dear sweet Henri.
This mad war of Lincoln is infecting you
with a sickness too depraved to even address. . .

Abani’s writing is ruthless, at times traumatic, and consistently filled with surprising twists and turns.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In Abani's fourth volume (after Dog Woman), he explores place and humor, exile and freedom with poems of experience and imagination. At the book's center is a series of epistolary poems, letters between two lovers, during the Civil War. Though these are set in the 1860s, their imagery might reflect current conflicts as they consider morality, politics, and gender: "There is something malevolent brewing/ in our very souls. A thing so heinous/ that should we wish to return from it, we could not/ devise a path home." In others, Abani uses humor with an often sardonic wit. In "Coleman," the narrator refers to a rumor that saxophonist Ornette Coleman was voluntarily castrated to improve his playing: "If Coleman had lived in the South,/ when black men garnished trees/ he would have got his operation for free-see?" With an abundance of music and language, Abani's poems examine injustice and liberation from it: "Even after the wounds have healed,/ I scratch around the phantom scab, avoiding/ what lies beneath." Some might argue that Abani enters the wound with a boldness that avoids nothing. Highly recommended.-Karla Huston, Appleton Art Ctr., WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592478
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Pages: 90
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria in 1966 and published his first novel at sixteen. He has been imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death for his literary activities. After fleeing Nigeria he continued to write, and is the author of ten books of poetry and fiction. He teaches at UC Riverside.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Riverpaw

    A silverwhite shecat pads in. May i join. She meowed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Emberstar to Raincstar URGENT

    Change your clan's name. There is already a Rainclan at 'stormy' all rese, we're a pact clan. In other words, we were here far before you, and have a large clearance for the name. We were originally Stormclan, but it was changed, because their was already a Stirmclan. Now you need to change yours. I'm not trying to be rude, simply avoid confusion. I apologize in advance for any misspellings here, I can't sre what I'm typing very well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Snow pelt

    I have a white coat and sea blue eyes and am a she cat with 4 kits.Please let me join.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Mistfur

    A gray blue shecat padded toward rainstar "can i join?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Rainstar

    She dipped her head respectfully. "I will change the Clans name to OceanClan." She meowed happily.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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