Smoking the Bible by Chris Abani
An award-winning author of numerous books, Chris Abani moves between his Igbo ancestry and migration to the United States in poems that evoke the holiness of grief through the startling, central practice of inhaling an immolated Bible.
Smoking the Bible is an arresting collection of poems thick with feeling, shaped by Chris Abani's astounding command of form and metaphor. These poems reveal the personal story of two brothers--one elegizing the other--and the larger story of a man in exile: exile of geography, culture, and memory. What we experience in this emotionally generous collection is a deep spiritual reckoning that draws on ancient African traditions of belief, and an intellectual vivacity drawing on various wisdom literatures and traditions. Abani illustrates the connective geography between harm, regret, and release, as poems move through landscapes of Nigeria, the Midwestern United States, adulthood, and childhood. One has the sense of entering a whole and complex world of the imagination in reading this collection. There is no artifice here, no affectation; and these poems are a study in the very grace of image.