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Wind in a Box

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  678 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The third collection of poetry from the author of Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award

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 livin
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Penguin Books
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4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  678 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Liz Janet
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A foray into poetry after a very long break from it. I will not say I regret it, because Terrance Hayes is not a bad poet, but sadly I did not feel the "the struggle for freedom (the wind) within containment (the box)" that everyone else seemed to feel.  I would more likely go and watch him perform his pieces instead of reading them, to me they felt more like very powerful slam poetry, rather than simply reading it and annotating.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-poetics

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.

Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, poetry
Hayes has something that I really like, something that's rare in modern poets: he has the ability to be both intelligent and playful at the same time. He combines a number of different modern poetry styles to create poems that are confusing, thrilling, interesting, sad, childish, and heartfelt all in the best of possible ways. I never found myself reading a poem I didn't like.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Terrance Hayes collects words. He scrambles and sings them into a conglomeration of questions, prayers, answers, popular culture, growing up, history, news, and every kind of music. He colors it all with the dark skin he can never forget. Like wind in a box, he is trying to catch what can never be held or seen. He is holding the nothing that is everything up to a mirror.

The universe is there, sparkling in its smallest forgotten details, each one a reflection of ourselves, and how we might be wit
Apr 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: poets
Recommended to Phayvanh by: podcasts
Shelves: 2008, poetry, reviews
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
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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 ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this collection enough. He has an amazing scope and range of writing. Incorporates perspective on race and masculinity throughout, often where least expected. I enjoyed reading many of these poems outloud to myself.
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
only read one poem

and it was the best.

The Blue Terrance
Ann Rufo
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Terrance Hayes' voice. From amazing collections like there to the mere introductions he gives to the poems he picks for The New York Times. He writes with style and diversity. This collection itself contains mutliple modern styles of writing, structure, rhyme and sound. He tackles fundamental issues of race and history; writes tenderly but powerfully about sexual assault, and explores with both humor and insight the idea of family and the way pop culture shapes us. He is an amazing talent ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry


This collection really had me vascillating between that 3 and 4 rating. Ultimately, though, there was just something about the form and structure of the poems that I didn't personally prefer.

Favorite line:

God bless the rage in us. / It's how we know each other.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I need to start reading poetry collections either in one sitting or within a few days of starting. When I set it down too long it's hard to remember how I'm liking it.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I know I'm against the grain with this one... but I just wasn't in the mood for this much penis in my poetry.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
3-5 poems in here that I loved ("The Blue _____"). Everything else was 50/50.
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 represent ...more
Vivacia Ahwen
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The first time I saw Terrance read live, I was blown away. Not even sure HOW to describe his writing --besides lyrical, nostalgic, confessional, quietly political, and often wicked I'm going to give an excerpt:

"I still love words. When we make love in the morning,
your skin damp from a shower, the day calms.
Shadenfreude may be the best way to name the covering
of adulthood, the powdered sugar on a black shirt. I am

alone now on the top floor pulled by obsession, the ink
on my fingers. An
Black Elephants
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Also lent by said poetry friend, I preferred this title to Lighthead.


"Harryette Mullen Lecture on the American Dream"

Mud is thicker than water. Pull your head up by your chin straps. Put the pedal to the metal. Peddle to the middle. Put the medal on the pedestal. I pledge Sister Sledgehammer & Father knows beds, but I am not my breather’s keeper. I pledge to earn every holler & if found guilty, I pledge to repay my Bill of Rights to Society. From me to shining me. Money, money, m
Craig Werner
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Terrance Hayes at his best triangulates Langston Hughes' vernacular smarts, Lorca's duende lyricism, and a determination to move past racial categories without abandoning the grounding of his specific experience.

My favorite poems all appear near the end of the book: the four poem title sequence, and "The Heritage Channel." But it reads smoothly without. I have to resist wanting Hayes to be someone he's not--Yusef Komunyakaa or Ed Pavlic, both of whom work the same general field--but as long as I
Well...I didn't love it. It wasn't nearly as clever as it tried to be. Pretty much the only poem I really liked was "Talk." It starts like this:


like a nigger now, my white friend,M, said
after my M.L.K. and Ronald Reagan impersonations,
the two of us alond and shirtless in the locker room,

It is a long poem so I'm not going to copy all of it here, but it is a good one. The only one that wowed me.
Jan 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, school, reviewed
I read this poetry collection for a class. I thought it was alright. I enjoyed his play on words and the way he imitated the voices of other poets and famous persons (in his Blue collection), though I'm sure I would have liked that section much better if I was more familiar with the people he mentioned. I also liked how he switched from free verse to prose poems throughout the book-the variety made it more fun to read.

Favorites: Woofer, Pine, Harryette Mullen, IV.RSVP
Kayla Reed
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poetry
I am so happy I had to read this for school or I would have missed the chance to read some AMAZING poetry. Terrance Hayes's words are so powerful and emotionally addicting. I loved all of the realness and the raw emotion that he placed in his poems. This has no doubt made it onto my favorite poetry list and I will always recommend this to anyone looking to get into some good poetry.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, mfa-3rd-term
An amazing collection. Playful variations in diction, form, and music allow Terrance Hayes to expand what could be confessional into something more like testimony and historiography. Hayes's work reminded me that telling of our individual truths can contribute to a truer version of history for posterity.

Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Lea by: Terrance
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.
Lisa Roney
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I love the combination of high brow and pop culture in Terrance Hayes' poems. He seems to me like the quintessential intelligent young black man, querying every aspect of the society around him, casting his sharp eye on events and films, his sharp ear on music and talk, with both poignancy and humor. Good stuff.
May 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
A challenge. A pleasure.
Philip Glass once said of his music that some people just don't get it. With poetry, the beauty of it is that sometimes we don't get it and we work and play to do so. In this case, I think I got it.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I felt the most interesting poems in this book were the stories he told, the poems in the beginning and end of the book. He has this amazing way of weaving these really beautiful stories into his poems.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I finished this collection, I wanted to teach this text. The poetry is not only beautiful, it also raises important questions about identity and identity politics. I imagine this will sponsor some really lively classroom discussion.
Timothy Green
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I think I need to see Terrance Hayes on a panel at least once a year. If you ever get a chance to see him, read him, whatever. Do it.
Thanks to my friend Roger Reeves for telling me about this one.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
No particular poems stood out to me, but I really enjoyed the whole collection.
ryo narasaki
Feb 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
amazing. beautiful. funny, eloquent, alters history.
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  • Teeth
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  • Jelly Roll
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Terrance Hayes is the author of four books of poetry, including Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (2006); Hip Logic (2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

He is an Associate Professor of creative writing at Carn
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“Look, the world is everywhere: satellites, end tables, the pink and white poinsettias outside the church; reunions and degrees. All those radiant asterisks . . . Soon it will all make sense.” 4 likes
“It might be the white woman or man our son or daughter will marry and the white woman or man our grandson or granddaughter will marry, all of them wading into the future until one of our line claims to be Sicilian. Leave instructions: the granddaughter of our granddaughter shall be named Cicily.” 1 likes
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