SO TO SPEAK
ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other poetry collections are American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, How to Be Drawn, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music, and 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, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Hayes lives in New York City, where he is a professor of creative writing at NYU.