Lighthead: Poems (Penguin Poets)

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9780143116967: Lighthead: Poems (Penguin Poets)

 
Winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry

In his fourth collection, Terrance Hayes investigates how we construct experience. With one foot firmly grounded in the everyday and the other hovering in the air, his poems braid dream and reality into a poetry that is both dark and buoyant. Cultural icons as diverse as Fela Kuti, Harriet Tubman, and Wallace Stevens appear with meditations on desire and history. We see Hayes testing the line between story and song in a series of stunning poems inspired by the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presenta­tion format. This innovative collection presents the light- headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time. Fueled by an imagination that enlightens, delights, and ignites, Lighthead leaves us illuminated and scorched.

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About the Author:

Terrance Hayes received an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. He was the recipient of a 1999 Whiting Writers Award, and his first collection of poetry, Muscular Music, was the winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2000. He is currently an assistant professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. The deservedly acclaimed Hayes returns in his fourth book with the kinds of sly, twisting, hip, jazzy poems his fans have come to expect, but also with a new somberness of tone and mature caution. You can spend your whole life/ doing no more than preparing for life and thinking/ 'Is this all there is?' warns the book's opening poem. Later, in a book that thinks hard about fatherhood, family, and mortality, Hayes asks, Who cannot think// Our elegies are endless endlessly and the words/ We put to them too often unheard and hurried? Elsewhere, Hayes treats memory with his signature wit: I believe, as the elephant must,/ that everything is punctured by the tusks of Nostalgia. The book also contains a surprisingly effective series of poems based on a form called pecha kucha, which, Hayes explains, is a type of Japanese business presentation in which the presenter must riff on a series of slides or images; Hayes adapts this form by bracketing the title or slide he's riffing on (The Magic of Magic and The Function of Fiction are two examples) and following with a four- or five-line stanza. The poems free-associate through their triggers, but images and themes satisfyingly resurface. Hayes, now entering mid-career, remains one of our best poets. (Apr.)
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