Chris Abani

Chris Abani - Editor Tick

Chicago, IL, United States

I have edited over 80 titles in crime, noir and literary fiction, from poetry to short story and novels. I am also a published poet myself.

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Overview

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As well as being a poet and writer, I am also a teacher of creative writing at Pacific University and Northwestern University. My approach to working with new writers is to ask a lot of questions, establish what the writer is reaching for, and then provide constructive (if sometimes challenging) feedback to achieve that. My process is completely collaborative and ensures that not only will your book be better at the end, you will also be a better writer.

I have editorially ushered ten books into the world under my own imprint and helped over 40 more under the African Poetry Book Fund. Privately, and in my academic teaching, I have mentored at least 20 more titles into publication. That is over 70 titles; no mean feat.

Languages
English (UK)
English (US)
Fiction
African American fiction
Crime & Mystery
Literature
Poetry
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs

Certifications

  • PhD Creative Writing and Literature
  • MA Gender and Politics
  • MA English

Awards

  • PEN Hemingway Prize
  • Guggenheim
  • PEN Freedom to Write Award
  • PEN Beyond the Margins Award
  • Lannan Literary Fellowship
  • Hurston Wright Legacy Award
  • Edgar Prize
  • Member American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Work experience

Professor

Pacific University MFA Program
January, 2015 – Present (over 3 years)

I teach graduate students to develop their writing and provide semester long mentoring and editorial work for 5 students .

Professor of English and Writing

Northwestern University
January, 2013 – Present (over 5 years)

I teach creative writing and literature classes. I edit student work, full length manuscripts etc.

Editor

Self-employed
January, 2012 – Present (over 6 years)

I work with other editors, and Kwame Dawes, to edit and put out full length poetry books under our imprint. I also co-edit and publish (with Kwame Dawes) a box-set of ten chapbooks of poetry each year.

Portfolio (16 selected works)

The Face: Cartography of the Void

Chris Abani

“A fascinating meditation on identity that explores the novelist’s own mixed heritage and mixed feelings….A true citizen of the world….With great insight and compassion, Abani reveals that behind his—and every—face are unseen scars.” —San Francisco ChronicleIn The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed Nigerian-born author and poet Chris Abani has given us a profound and gorgeously wrought s... read more

“A fascinating meditation on identity that explores the novelist’s own mixed heritage and mixed feelings….A true citizen of the world….With great insight and compassion, Abani reveals that behind his—and every—face are unseen scars.” —San Francisco ChronicleIn The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed Nigerian-born author and poet Chris Abani has given us a profound and gorgeously wrought s... read more

Song for Night: A Novella

Chris Abani

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beaut... read more

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beaut... read more

The Secret History of Las Vegas: A Novel

Chris Abani

A gritty, riveting, and wholly original murder mystery from PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author and 2015 Edgar Awards winner Chris Abani Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he’s sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sun... read more

A gritty, riveting, and wholly original murder mystery from PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author and 2015 Edgar Awards winner Chris Abani Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he’s sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sun... read more

Becoming Abigail

Chris Abani

"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and alonen... read more

"Compelling and gorgeously written, this is a coming-of-age novella like no other. Chris Abani explores the depths of loss and exploitation with what can only be described as a knowing tenderness. An extraordinary, necessary book."—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban"Abani's voice brings perspective to every moment, turning pain into a beautiful painterly meditation on loss and alonen... read more

Sanctificum

Chris Abani

“Abani . . . explores place and humor, exile and freedom with poems of experience and imagination . . . [he] enters the wound with a boldness that avoids nothing. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal“Stunning poems.” —New HumanistA self-described “zealot of optimism,” poet and novelist Chris Abani bravely travels into the charged intersections of atrocity and love, politics and religion, loss... read more

“Abani . . . explores place and humor, exile and freedom with poems of experience and imagination . . . [he] enters the wound with a boldness that avoids nothing. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal“Stunning poems.” —New HumanistA self-described “zealot of optimism,” poet and novelist Chris Abani bravely travels into the charged intersections of atrocity and love, politics and religion, loss... read more

Hands Washing Water

Chris Abani

“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, a... read more

“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, a... read more

Lagos Noir (Akashic Noir Series)

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book. West Africa enters the Noir Series arena, meticulously edited by one of Nigeria's best-known authors.Brand-new stories by: Chris Abani, Nnedi Okorafor, E.C. Osondu, Ju... read more

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book. West Africa enters the Noir Series arena, meticulously edited by one of Nigeria's best-known authors.Brand-new stories by: Chris Abani, Nnedi Okorafor, E.C. Osondu, Ju... read more

Graceland (Today Show Pick January 2005)

Chris Abani

Graceland is a dazzling debut by a singular new talentThe sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into... read more

Graceland is a dazzling debut by a singular new talentThe sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into... read more

New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tano) (African Poetry Book Fund)

"[This collection] continues the African Poetry Book Fund project to identify the best poetry by African poets working today and ensure their publication. This 12-piece, limited-edition box set features the work of 11 new poets."--Publishers Weekly, Spring 2018 Announcements, Poetry"[Omotara] James' voice is so unique and genuine; she's definitely a poet to have on your poetdar."--The Coil, Om... read more

"[This collection] continues the African Poetry Book Fund project to identify the best poetry by African poets working today and ensure their publication. This 12-piece, limited-edition box set features the work of 11 new poets."--Publishers Weekly, Spring 2018 Announcements, Poetry"[Omotara] James' voice is so unique and genuine; she's definitely a poet to have on your poetdar."--The Coil, Om... read more

New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tatu)

"New-Generation African Poets is an ambitious, vital project that delivers exactly what it promises...As a group, the chapbooks dispel stereotypes about African writing. They also illustrate what editors Dawes and Abani note about the many ways poets can understand or redefine their ties to Africa. These insights are poignant and valuable, especially at a time when millions around the globe fi... read more

"New-Generation African Poets is an ambitious, vital project that delivers exactly what it promises...As a group, the chapbooks dispel stereotypes about African writing. They also illustrate what editors Dawes and Abani note about the many ways poets can understand or redefine their ties to Africa. These insights are poignant and valuable, especially at a time when millions around the globe fi... read more

Eight New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set

"The chapbooks gathered here are almost overflowing with voice....Each of these chapbooks is so worthy of praise and attention that it is not possible to do them justice in the space afforded this review. They deserve, and hopefully will receive, the specific and individual attention of critics and readers, and their authors deserve to enjoy long and noted careers."--Untucked Magazine"I've bee... read more

"The chapbooks gathered here are almost overflowing with voice....Each of these chapbooks is so worthy of praise and attention that it is not possible to do them justice in the space afforded this review. They deserve, and hopefully will receive, the specific and individual attention of critics and readers, and their authors deserve to enjoy long and noted careers."--Untucked Magazine"I've bee... read more

New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Nne)

"Edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, the yearly poetry chapbook set is a delightful combination of emerging African poets. This year's collection is no less ambitious in its scope: Nne introduces poets of a singular talent, exploring themes of belonging, questioning lands and seas that offer them refuge and refuse them at the same time. Giving voice to new poets is a particularly necessary ... read more

"Edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, the yearly poetry chapbook set is a delightful combination of emerging African poets. This year's collection is no less ambitious in its scope: Nne introduces poets of a singular talent, exploring themes of belonging, questioning lands and seas that offer them refuge and refuse them at the same time. Giving voice to new poets is a particularly necessary ... read more

The Lesser Tragedy of Death (Black Goat)

Cristina García

"[A] brave and moving tribute to a brother gone astray; with skill, unflinching honesty, and redemptive compassion, Cristina García tracks his marvelous, complex, and errant life. . . . These poems are the beautiful, painful, astonishing result of a journey to hell and back in search of the brother she loves. With this first book of poems, García, one of our best novelists and storytellers, pr... read more

"[A] brave and moving tribute to a brother gone astray; with skill, unflinching honesty, and redemptive compassion, Cristina García tracks his marvelous, complex, and errant life. . . . These poems are the beautiful, painful, astonishing result of a journey to hell and back in search of the brother she loves. With this first book of poems, García, one of our best novelists and storytellers, pr... read more

Conduit (Black Goat)

Khadijah Queen

"Khadijah Queen is a poet with stunning intellectual powers. It's a worthwhile experience to spend such quality time in an inaugural book of poems." --Eloise Klein Healy, former Poet Laureate of Los Angeles"CONDUIT, Khadijah Queen's debut collection, is itself a current that runs through a historical and mythical past, continuing through our troubled present. These stunning meditations...are c... read more

"Khadijah Queen is a poet with stunning intellectual powers. It's a worthwhile experience to spend such quality time in an inaugural book of poems." --Eloise Klein Healy, former Poet Laureate of Los Angeles"CONDUIT, Khadijah Queen's debut collection, is itself a current that runs through a historical and mythical past, continuing through our troubled present. These stunning meditations...are c... read more

Abstraktion und Einfühlung (Black Goat)

Percival Everett

“Everett’s talent is multifaceted, sparked by a satiric brilliance that could place him alongside Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.”—Publishers Weekly“I think Percival Everett is a genius. . . . He’s a brilliant writer and so damn smart I envy him.”—Terry McMillanChris Abani has developed his groundbreaking Black Goat poetry series with exciting and provocative new voices. Here, Percival Evere... read more

“Everett’s talent is multifaceted, sparked by a satiric brilliance that could place him alongside Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.”—Publishers Weekly“I think Percival Everett is a genius. . . . He’s a brilliant writer and so damn smart I envy him.”—Terry McMillanChris Abani has developed his groundbreaking Black Goat poetry series with exciting and provocative new voices. Here, Percival Evere... read more

Chris has 1 review

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Joel Turni

Chris was an extraordinary reader and listener—his timeliness, his pointed and articulate feedback, his help in negotiating impact of that feedback on the work were all critical to helping me get my chapbook moving forward with more focus and much more ambitious sense of what it could become.

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Joel Turni, June 2018

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