Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry

One of the New York Times Critics' Top Books of 2018

A powerful, timely, dazzling collection of sonnets from one of America's most acclaimed poets, Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award-winning author of Lighthead

"Sonnets that reckon with Donald Trump's America." -The New York Times


In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, of assassin, and of love in the sonnet form. Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these poems are haunted by the country's past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares. Inventive, compassionate, hilarious, melancholy, and bewildered--the wonders of this new collection are irreducible and stunning.
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN

Sometimes the father almost sees looking
At the son, how handsome he'd be if half
His own face was made of the woman he loved.
He almost sees in his boy's face, an openness
Like a wound before it scars, who he was
Long before his name was lost, the trail
To his future on earth long before he arrived.
To be dead & alive at the same time.
A son finds his father handsome because
The son can almost see how he might
Become superb as the scar above a wound.
And because the son can see who he was
Long before he had a name, the trace of
His future on earth long before he arrived.
  • LONGLIST | 2018
    National Book Award
Terrance Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, winner of the 2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award. His other poetry collections are So to Speak, How to Be Drawn, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. He is also the author of To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight, winner of the 2019 Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. Hayes lives in New York City, where he is a professor of creative writing at New York University. View titles by Terrance Hayes

About

Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry

One of the New York Times Critics' Top Books of 2018

A powerful, timely, dazzling collection of sonnets from one of America's most acclaimed poets, Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award-winning author of Lighthead

"Sonnets that reckon with Donald Trump's America." -The New York Times


In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, of assassin, and of love in the sonnet form. Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these poems are haunted by the country's past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares. Inventive, compassionate, hilarious, melancholy, and bewildered--the wonders of this new collection are irreducible and stunning.

Excerpt

AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN

Sometimes the father almost sees looking
At the son, how handsome he'd be if half
His own face was made of the woman he loved.
He almost sees in his boy's face, an openness
Like a wound before it scars, who he was
Long before his name was lost, the trail
To his future on earth long before he arrived.
To be dead & alive at the same time.
A son finds his father handsome because
The son can almost see how he might
Become superb as the scar above a wound.
And because the son can see who he was
Long before he had a name, the trace of
His future on earth long before he arrived.

Awards

  • LONGLIST | 2018
    National Book Award

Author

Terrance Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, winner of the 2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award. His other poetry collections are So to Speak, How to Be Drawn, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. He is also the author of To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight, winner of the 2019 Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. Hayes lives in New York City, where he is a professor of creative writing at New York University. View titles by Terrance Hayes

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