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About this poet

Terrance Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on November 18, 1971. He received a BA from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, where he studied painting and English and was an Academic All-American on the men’s basketball team, and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh writing program, where he is professor of creative writing and co-founder of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

Terrance Hayes is the author of eight collections of poetry including, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Poets, 2018), which is a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry and is shortlisted for the 2018 T. S. Eliot Prize; How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry; Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006); Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has one forthcoming collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018).

About his work, Cornelius Eady has said: "First you'll marvel at his skill, his near-perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you'll notice the grace, the tenderness, the unblinking truth-telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world."

He has received many honors and awards, including a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, three Best American Poetry selections, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2014, he was named a recipient of the prestigious  MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellowship.

He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2017. He is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University (2016 - 2018) and the poetry editor at New York Times Magazine.


Bibliography

How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015) 
Lighthead (Penguin, 2010)
Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)
Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002)
Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999)

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [Even the most kindhearted white woman]

Even the most kindhearted white woman,
Dragging herself through traffic with her nails
On the wheel & her head in a chamber of black
Modern American music may begin, almost
Carelessly, to breathe n-words. Yes, even the most
Bespectacled hallucination cruising the lanes
Of America may find her tongue curls inward,
Entangling her windpipe, her vents, toes & pedals
When she drives alone. Even the most made up
Layers of persona in a two- or four-door vehicle
Sealed in a fountain of bass & black boys
Chanting n-words may begin to chant inwardly
Softly before she can catch herself. Of course,
After that, what is inward, is absorbed.

Copyright © 2017 Terrance Hayes. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Terrance Hayes. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2017.

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

The 2010 winner of the National Book Award in poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of five poetry collections. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

And I understand well now, it is beautiful
to be dumb: my tyrannical inclinations, my love
for the prodigal jocks aging from primetime
to pastime, the pixilated plain people and colored folk

with homemade signs. Cutouts, cutups, ambushes,
bushwackers. The clouds are overwhelmed

poem

If you subtract the minor losses,
you can return to your childhood too:
the blackboard chalked with crosses,

the math teacher's toe ring. You
can be the black boy not even the buck-
toothed girls took a liking to:

the match box, these bones in their funk
machine, this thumb worn

poem

Any day now you will have the ability to feed the name
Of anyone into an engine & your long lost half brother
As well as whoever else possesses a version of his name
Will appear before your face in bits of pixels & data
Displaying his monikers (like Gitmo for trapping, Bang