The National Book Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes will present a special talk on the legacy of the Indianapolis poet Etheridge Knight (1931-1991). Knight dedicated himself to poetry while serving time in the Indiana State Prison in the 1960s, then became a key figure in the Black Arts Movement and a powerful influence, as writer, peer, and teacher, on an untold number of other poets. He spent his final years in Indianapolis and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.
Terrance Hayes’ most recent book, a collection of creative nonfiction and visual art inspired by Knight, is To Float in the Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Non-Fiction.
Over the past two decades, Hayes has emerged as one of contemporary poetry’s most compelling voices on the subjects of race, masculinity, and American culture. His poems are formally inventive, even playful, marked by a fierce wit and a willingness to abide within ambiguity and paradox, as he continually discovers new ways to interrogate what it means to exist in this society, in this place and time. Hayes’ most recent collection of poems, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018), comprises seventy unrhymed free verse sonnets haunted by our current difficult political moment as well as the long cultural history that precedes it. The book was a finalist for both the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Hayes is also the author of five other collections of poetry, including How to Be Drawn (2015), winner of the NAACP Image Award for Poetry; Lighthead (2010), winner of the National Book Award in Poetry; Wind in a Box(2006), finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award; Hip Logic (2002), winner of the National Poetry Series and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (1999), winner of both the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has been a recipient of many other honors and awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation—what is commonly referred to as its “genius award.”
Hayes was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2017. He serves as Professor of English at New York University and resides in New York City.
This event is free and open to the public, no tickets required.