Terrance Hayes


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. Terrance Hayes is the author of eight collections of poetry, including American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Poets, 2018), which received the 2019 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for poetry and was a finalist for the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and was 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 is also the author of the collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018), which received the 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Non-Fiction. He has received many honors and awards, including a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, and 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 a MacArthur Fellowship. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2017 and serves as an ex officio member of the Academy's Board of Directors. He is currently Professor of English at New York University and resides in New York City. Source

excerpt from “How to Draw an Invisible Man”

And then when Ralph Ellison’s corpse burst 

open, I discovered his body had been hoarding 

all these years a luscious slush, a sludge 

of arterial words, the raw and unsaid pages 

with their plots and propositions, with their arcs 

of intention and babbling, with their mumbling 

streams and false starts and their love 

and misanthropic thrusts, tendons of syntax 

unraveled from his bones and intestinal cavities, 

the froth of singing, stinging, stinking ink, 

reams of script fraught with the demons, 

demagogues and demigods of democracy, 

demographies of vague landscapes, 

passages describing muddy river bottoms 

and elaborate protagonists crawling 

through a foliage greener than money in America 

before America thought to release anyone 

from its dream





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


the recurrence of similar sounds, especially consonants, in close proximity

Slant Rhyme

A rhyme where the words have similar sounds in their stressed syllables.

Transferred Epithet

When an adjective usually used to describe one thing is transferred to another.