Chris Abani was born in Nigeria and published his first novel, Masters of the Board (1985), when he was a teenager. The Nigerian authorities believed the book, a political thriller about a government coup, was a blueprint for an actual coup and imprisoned him. Eventually released, Abani continued to argue for the overthrow of the government and was jailed again, this time in Nigeria’s notorious Kiri Kiri prison. During his year in Kiri Kiri, Abani was tortured and underwent months of solitary confinement. He was freed in 1991 and eventually escaped Nigeria and moved to England. He became a resident of the United States in 1999 and is currently a professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. Influenced by his traumatic life experiences, Abani’s work deals with the corrosive effects of poverty, crime, and political instability on individuals.
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"I was surprised that I was able to select poems that are so out of my usual spoken word preference. The Poetry Out Loud website has hundreds of poems that I have never seen before, and the fact that I found 3 and was able to make it so far with them is amazing to me. I guess I learned that stepping outside of the box is okay!"