Wind in a Box

ISBN: 0143036866
ISBN 13: 9780143036869
By: Terrance Hayes

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African American Contemporary Currently Reading Default Favorites Poc Poems Poetry School To Read

About this book

Terrance Hayes is an elegant and adventurous writer with disarming humor, grace, tenderness, and brilliant turns of phrase. He is very much interested in what it means to be an artist and a black man. In his first collection, Muscular Music, he took the reader through a living library of cultural icons, from Shaft and Fat Albert to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. His second collection, Hip Logic, continued these explorations of popular culture, fatherhood, cultural heritage, and loss. Wind in a Box, Hayes’s resonant new collection, continues his interest in how traditions (of poetry and culture alike) can be simultaneously upended and embraced. The struggle for freedom (the wind) within containment (the box) is the unifying motif as Hayes explores how identity is shaped by race, heritage, and spirituality. This new book displays not only what the Los Angeles Times calls the range of a "bold virtuoso," but also the imaginative fervor of a poet in love with poetry.

Reader's Thoughts

Diann Blakely

From bebop narratives to the NBA in WIND IN A BOX! Is there anything this poet can't do?


This book is phenomenal..."The Blue Seuss" is a poem about everything that's just plain WRONG in this world - racism, injustice, prejudice, putting people into boxes that they don't belong in. Every time I go back to it (and there's many repeats), I cry first. Then become angry. The rest of the poems are terrific too.


Wind in a Box is Terrance Hayes’ third book of poetry. The collection was named one of the Best 100 Books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly. He continues in the same vein, the techniques and subject matter that has garnered him so much literary praise and numerous awards. The collection deals with the often avoided issues of racial tensions in our society. Throughout the work, the tensions of the overarching metaphor are expounded; for Hayes the wind seemingly represents freedom and the box representing an imprisonment or containment. He utilizes a range of forms and conventions of poetry. In his piece “Woofer (When I Consider the African-American), he surmises the “much discussed dilemma of the African-American”. He weaves a narrative of an encounter he considers a first love and comes to the conclusion that “when I consider the African-American I think not of the tek nines of my generation…I think of a string of people connected one to another and including the two of us there in the basement linked by a hyphen filled with blood; linked by a blood filled baton in one great historical relay.” This beautifully crafter extended metaphor of the African-American experience is where Terrance Hayes continues to excel. The work often has a musical-like feel and flow. It links diverse ideas all allowing for self discovery; both for the reader and poet. The way his constructs words, sentences, and phrases all have the potential to heal those longing for a sort of reconciliation. Unlike any poet in this era he successfully tackles the issue of racial prejudice. Based on a photograph, he presents the shameful legacy of lynching in "A Postcard from Okemah." Both enchanting and extraordinarily lamentable the poem describes a young mother and son hanging from a bridge above a river. Hayes presents the shocking image:“The boy dangles in midairlike a hooked fish, his pants hangingfrom his ankles like a tail fin.”"I cannot ask who is left more disfigured, ... the ones who are hung or the ones who hang."


Wind in a Box (Poets, Penguin) by Terrance Hayes (2006)


Wind In a Box offers up a well organized collection of poems in sections devoted to personal history, blues variations, prose poems and attempts at getting to the core of defining one's lineage.What I liked most was the evident conclusion that the poet was a work in progress, that the blues will haunt in various shades forever, no matter how one tries to define it. And that trying to define oneself includes responding to pop culture, reminding ourselves of the past, and continually asking the same question until the right answer arises. (I was going to quote something here but I can't find the passage.) Terrance Hayes's lyric is tight, visual, and so packed with music. We clawed free the moss and brambles,the colonies of crab-weed, the thornspatrolling the stems and I liked it then:the mute duty that tightened my parents'backs as if they meant to workthe devil from his den.(from "Root")And to anyone approaching, our laughterMust have sounded like the laughter of crows, those birdsThat leave everything beneath them trampled and broken open(from "Pine")There's more. Lot's more. But I don't want to ruin it for the prospective reader. I first encountered Terrance Hayes's work by through some of the literary podcasts I listen to. Quite a few of them featured him reading his poetry ("Blue Terrance" [If you subtract the minor losses...]) is a favorite. And some were interviews with the author, from which I learned that he went to college to study painting and was encouraged to write poetry. Pittsburg is infused into these poems, but so is the blues music. And so is the long and complicated history of the African-American diaspora.Because of the audio introduction, searched around town for on of his books but had to resort to special ordering it from my local bookstore.This is his third book. If you are into what's happening at the talented end of contemporary poetry, do read this book.

Timothy Green


Joey Gamble


Laurie Petersen

Some strong material; welcome sensitivity.


Good reading. Like his word play. His ability to write about people, show history, expose racism, delve into the soul of what is real. He has a lot of blues in this book. And he writes in new forms, but not traditional, more modern forms that I don't know the name of, maybe he makes them up. Fresh. Jazz. Alive. A beat to a beat to a beat. Want to read more of his books—he says each is written in a different form. When I took a class with him he had us write in a way I'd not written before, and I want to write more like that. And Wind in a Box is a whole series of poems all with the same name! How do you track poems with the same name?


favorites: "The Blue Borges", "The Blue Bowie", "The Blue Terrance ("I loved Bruce Lee..."), "Woofer (When I Consider the African-American)"


How can you not love a book by a dude with a mohawk.


WHOA.What a talent. So much invention and so much control. He can do almost anything, and does. Even when the book is at its slowest--some of the "Blue" series, maybe--there are always a couple of lines that knock you out. WHOA.


Beautiful. Gutting. Thoughtful.


This man just can't write anything I don't love.


Very good, but a bit hit-or-miss at times.

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