Terrance Hayes

Terrance HayesTerrance Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins (Penguin, 2018), a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry; To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018); How to Be Drawn (2015); Lighthead (2010), which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Hip Logic, winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series, and Wind in a Box. An artist-in-residence at New York University, Hayes currently resides in New York City.

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin
[But there never was a black male hysteria]


But there never was a black male hysteria
Breaking & entering wearing glee & sadness
And the light grazing my teeth with my lighter
To the night with the flame like a blade cutting
Me slack along the corridors with doors of offices
Orifices vomiting tears & fire with my two tongues
Loose & shooing under a high-top of language
In a layer of mischief so traumatized trauma
Delighted me beneath the tremendous
Stupendous horrendous undiscovered stars
Burning where I didn’t know how to live
My friends were all the wounded people
The black girls who held their own hands
Even the white boys who grew into assassins

Originally published in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets



Terrance Hayes Reading I January 21, 2020

Reading I January 21, 2020