Hands Washing Water

Hands Washing Water

By Chris Abani

Copper Canyon Press, Paperback, 9781556592478, 83pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2006


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.

About the Author
Chris Abani was born in Nigeria. At age sixteen he published his first novel, for which he suffered severe political persecution. He went into exile in 1991, and has since lived in England and the United States. His book "Daphne's Lot" is a collection of poetry for which he won a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. His book, "Kalakuta Republic", is a collection of poetry based on his experience as a political prisoner in Nigeria, and received the PEN USA West Freedom-to-Write Award and the Prince Claus of the Netherlands Award.