Fall 2014: Terrance Hayes
One of the most compelling voices in American poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of five books of poetry; How to Be Drawn (2015); Lighthead (2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry; Wind in a Box, winner of a Pushcart Prize; Hip Logic, winner of the National Poetry Series, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Muscular Music, winner of both the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has been a recipient of many other honors and awards, including two Pushcart selections, four Best American Poetry selections, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Fence, The Kenyon Review, Jubilat, Harvard Review, and Poetry. His poetry has been featured on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
In this searching follow-up to the acclaimed Hip Logic, Hayes bluntly concludes that “everyone/ is a descendant of slaves” and, more tentatively, wonders “if outrunning your captors is not the real meaning of Race?” A series of “Blue” poems (“The Blue Bowie,” “The Blue Terrance”) considers twentieth-century representations of race, culling wisdom, and impressions from poet-activist Amiri Baraka, filmmaker and performer Melvin Van Peebles. and even Dr. Seuss: “Blacks in one box. Blacks in two box / Blacks on / Blacks stacked in boxes stacked on boxes.” Utilizing a range of forms and voices—Dante's terza rima, jerky blues in the spirit of Langston Hughes, Frostian lyrics, contemporary prose poems—Hayes brilliantly delivers the aeolian flux promised by the title: “a signature of wind, / my type-written handwriting reconfiguring the past.” —Publisher’s Weekly