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So to Speak

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A powerful, timely, dazzling new collection of poems from Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award–winning author of Lighthead—to be published simultaneously with his latest work of literary criticism, Watch Your Language

The three sections of Terrance Hayes’ seventh collection explore how we see ourselves and our world, mapping the strange and lyrical grammar of thinking and feeling. In “Watch Your Mouth,” a tree frog sings to overcome its fear of birds; in “Watch Your Step: The Kafka Virus,” a talking cat tells jokes in the Jim Crow South; in “Watch Your Head,“ green beans bling in the mouth of Lil Wayne, and Bob Ross paints your portrait. On the one hand, these fabulous fables, American sonnets, quarantine quatrains, and ekphrastic do-it-yourself sestinas animate what Toni Morrison called “the writerly imagination of a black author who is at some level always conscious of representing one’s own race.” On the other hand, these urgent, personal poems contemplate fatherhood, history, and longing with remarkable openness and humanity. So To Speak is the mature, restless work of one of contemporary poetry’s leading voices.
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

A powerful, timely, dazzling new collection of poems from Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award–winning author of Lighthead—to be published simultaneously with his latest work of literary criticism, Watch Your Language

The three sections of Terrance Hayes’ seventh collection explore how we see ourselves and our world, mapping the strange and lyrical grammar of thinking and feeling. In “Watch Your Mouth,” a tree frog sings to overcome its fear of birds; in “Watch Your Step: The Kafka Virus,” a talking cat tells jokes in the Jim Crow South; in “Watch Your Head,“ green beans bling in the mouth of Lil Wayne, and Bob Ross paints your portrait. On the one hand, these fabulous fables, American sonnets, quarantine quatrains, and ekphrastic do-it-yourself sestinas animate what Toni Morrison called “the writerly imagination of a black author who is at some level always conscious of representing one’s own race.” On the other hand, these urgent, personal poems contemplate fatherhood, history, and longing with remarkable openness and humanity. So To Speak is the mature, restless work of one of contemporary poetry’s leading voices.

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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