So to Speak (Penguin Poets)
A powerful, timely, dazzling new collection of poems from the National Book Award–winning author of Lighthead
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.