Poetry News

Faraz Rizvi Reviews New Terrance Hayes at The Millions

By Harriet Staff

We are eagerly awaiting our copies of Terrance Hayes's new collection of poetry, American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin, which is due on bookshelves in just a few more days. In the meantime, we read Faraz Rizvi's assessment at The Millions, in which Rizvi puts Hayes's work within the context of American literature like Wanda Coleman's "improvisational free jazz approach to sonnets" and writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, who wrestle "with the implications of blackness and literary tradition." Rizvi returns to Hayes after an uncomfortable experience at a city council meeting. "A few days past, I stepped into my town’s city council chambers to a sea of 'Make America Great Again' hats and signs against 'illegal aliens.'" Rizvi writes, "The council was meeting to decide whether the city would, in a largely symbolic gesture, oppose the idea of the Sanctuary City bill and sign onto the amicus brief suing the state." From there: 

One after one after one, men and women stood at the podium facing the council, donning red hats, draped in American flags, and snarled abuses about criminality and violence, about illegal aliens and rapists—the same vitriolic language espoused by the president. Those in favor of the bill were outnumbered, and a gentleman in the seat next to me would regularly turn to my mother and I to record our reactions to the vitriol—my mother, being a hijabi, was an easy target. If eyes are the window into the soul, and racism is a malignancy within it, those windows showed very clearly what was in front of us; I refuse to believe that the council members did not see it. As the night wore on, one line kept returning to me from Terrance Hayes, sitting at the edge of my tongue, that I wanted to yell: “May all the gold you touch burn, rot & rust.” It sat in my mouth, and I wished I could let it fly.

Read on at The Millions.

Originally Published: June 14th, 2018