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A powerful, timely, dazzling new collection of poems from the National Book Award-winning author of Lighthead


Since the publication of his first collection, Muscular Music, in 1999, Terrance Hayes has been one of America's most exciting and innovative poets, winning acclaim for sly, twisting, jazzy poems that put "invincibly restless wordplay at the service of strong emotions" ( The New York Times Book Review).


A tree frog sings to overcome its fear of birds, talking cats tell jokes in the Jim Crow South, and a father addresses his daughter in the lyric fables, folk sonnets, quarantine quatrains, and ekphrastic do-it-yourself sestinas of So to Speak, Hayes's seventh collection. Bob Ross paints your portrait, green beans bling in the mouth of Lil Wayne, and elegies for the late David Berman and George Floyd unfold amid the pandemic. These wondrous poems are lyric germinations of the often-incomprehensible predicaments of the present, as Hayes shapes language into figures of music and music into figures of language.


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 AssassinHow to Be DrawnWind in a BoxHip 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.



  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 25, 2023)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0143137727
  • ISBN-13: 9780143137726
  • Item Weight: 13 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.28 x 9 inches
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