Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes to give Emily Dickinson Lecture

August 27, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship recipient and National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes will offer a reading at Penn State's University Park campus as this year’s Emily Dickinson Lecturer. The reading will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library. The reading is free and open to the public.

Hayes, professor of English at New York University, is the author of six award-winning collections of poems, including "Muscular Music" (1999), "Hip Logic" (2002), "Wind in a Box" (2006), "Lighthead" (2010), "How to be Drawn" (2015), and "American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassins" (2018).

"Hip Logic," which captures and confronts the nuances of racism, sexism and family structure through an overwhelming range of imagery and language, won the National Poetry Series and was a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and James Laughlin Award. "Wind in a Box," a collection named one of the best books by Publisher’s Weekly and awarded the Pushcart Prize, expands upon the themes presented in "Hip Logic" within the contexts of identity and the pursuit of freedom under smothering confinement. "American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins," a 2018 finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, is made up of sonnets written during the first 200 days of the Trump presidency and explores America’s demons, triumphs, dreams and nightmares in stunning and original verse.

Lighthead (2010)

Winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry, Lighthead is Terrance Hayes’ most innovative, free-associating poetry collection. It investigates how we construct memory and experience, presenting “the light-headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time.” 

IMAGE: Terrance Hayes

Winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry, "Lighthead" is Hayes’ most innovative, free-associating poetry collection. It investigates how we construct memory and experience, presenting “the light-headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time.” The citation for the National Book Award described it as a “dazzling mixture of wisdom and lyric innovation.”

In reflecting on his focus and style in general, Hayes writes, “There are recurring explorations of identity and culture in my work and rather than deny my thematic obsessions, I work to change the forms in which I voice them. I aspire to a poetic style that resists style.”

Before joining New York University, Hayes taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Hayes also is the author of an essay collection titled "To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight" (2018), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. He has served as the poetry editor for several publications, including The New York Times Magazine.

The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry is made possible through the generosity of Penn State Alumni George and Barbara Kelly. Additional support for the event is provided by the Penn State Department of English.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 27, 2019