I Need Music
by Anaïs Duplan

ISBN-13: 9780900575112 | $20 | 256 pages | October 1, 2021

When I first come into contact with an image, I say,
what is an image? I begin to believe paradoxically one failed picture
is the total picture. I can tell there’s an art to staying
either inside or outside the lines.

In his fourth book, Anaïs Duplan reinvents ekphrasis as an act of devotion to art as both the sense-archive and future tense of Black embodiment. In this vibrant thinkspace (where thinking is singing), Duplan hosts a vivid community of Black musicians, performers, painters, photographers, poets, critics, filmmakers and video artists, even a chorus of lovelorn chatroom denizens. I Need Music hosts the lyric re-arrivals of unquiet pasts, enacts a haptic intimacy with the present, and vibrates with the immanence of Black, queer futures.

If you have already purchased I Need Music, visit its companion site [here]. The companion site houses the notes, acknowledgments, responses, miscellany, etc. that made I Need Music possible.


Just as Duplan journeys through the artistic works of Michie, Okpokwasili, Paper, Ra, Pansera, and a number of others to find, break, and create himself, so too does I Need Music—the chronicle of this journey—create a space for his readers to bear witness to his journey and enact the same journey for themselves.

— Christina Cook, Colorado Review

I Need Music is above all an exploration of different affects from the artistic, erotic and intellectual through a reconfiguring of poetry from encapsulation towards porosity and ambiguity. The impossibility of Duplan’s ekphrasis helps us empathise with the work to lead us towards an aesthetic and ethical responsibility that we have to ourselves and each other; a responsibility to think better, bigger and together. He is not prescriptive in his exploration of art, but rather presents multiple potentials that can be reconfigured by reader and producer alike for their own particular circumstances.

— George Reiner, Berfrois 


[Anaïs Duplan] balances the intellect, image, music, and emotion in ways so unfamiliar that a blurb couldn’t possibly characterize the work.

— Jericho Brown

For all the ways we pad our language with qualifier, with apology, with hedge, Anaïs Duplan is antidote. His poems are talkative, inappropriate, obsessive, and sexy.

— francine j. harris

Here are poems that revel in post-hybridity and borderless threnodies, and go straight to the stillness of the heart, to performances of language that are fierce and juicier than a papaya, and frankly, that one would only expect from a brilliant young mind as theirs.

— Major Jackson

Take This Stallion is the sound of a generation finding its voice; it is a sound of a generation that has more rapidly than any since the generation that came of age in the 1960’s turned the world on its head, both exposing the faithlessness of the generations before it, and reifying the promises those generations made.

— Shane McCrae

It would be a gift to read the brilliance of Blackspace in any season, but it feels especially thrilling now. This is futuristic work—work that doesn’t just serve as a reminder that there will be black people in the future, but work that mines for an understanding of what that future will look like. In form, in shape, in language, and in endless vision.

— Hanif Abdurraqib

Duplan stirs the banal into a melting pot of the bizarre and morbid, creating an enticing concoction for those with eclectic palates.

Publishers Weekly

Duplan skillfully models radical listening in the relationship he cultivates between the text and its audience, prompting us to reimagine our interactions with artistic tradition and our lives in language.


Anaïs Duplan’s poems are witty and bold, inhabiting a speculative underbelly of pop culture.



Anaïs Duplan is a trans* poet, curator, and artist. He is the author of a book of essays, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). He has taught poetry at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and St. Joseph’s College. His video works have been exhibited by Flux Factory, Daata Editions, the 13th Baltic Triennial in Lithuania, Mathew Gallery, NeueHouse, the Paseo Project, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in L.A. As an independent curator, he has facilitated curatorial projects in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, and Reykjavík. He was a 2017-2019 joint Public Programs fellow at the Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2016, he founded the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for artists of color, based at Iowa City’s artist-run organization Public Space One.