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How to Be Drawn

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  882 ratings  ·  111 reviews
A dazzling new collection of poetry by Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award–winning author of Lighthead

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Penguin Group
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Brown Girl Reading
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry lovers
What can I say? Just awesome! Love Hayes' approach to writing poetry. He brings everything and everybody into his poetry. He has a lot to say if you take the time to read, reread, understand and then reread. I swear you'll understand and find more things with each reading. This is his fifth collection of poetry but well worth the read.
Arielle Walker
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-own, poetry
Hello, sliding chairs. Hello, vicious whispering shadows.
I'm a reasonable man, but I want to be as inexplicable
as something hanging a dozen feet in the air.

I've been reading this in pieces, bite sized moments taken in mornings and twilights when no-one is around to interrupt the flow and spread of words on the page.

This is my first encounter with Terrence Hayes - first of many, I hope. His writing is fluid and twisting and clever, poems laid out in inventive ways that serve to tell their sto
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how to talk about poetry but this is a powerful book. Lots of clever wordplay in many of the poems. When Hayes engages with popular culture he does it so well. Really enjoyed this.
Zachary F.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
                                        People who say don't live in the past
Don't have a real sense of the past, would you agree with that?

The first three or four poems in this collection were love at first sight. Hayes is almost the stylistic opposite of the last poet I read, Claudia Rankine, whose unadorned, matter-of-fact delivery, while no less brilliant, serves an almost documentary purpose; Hayes, by contrast, dives gleefully into the abstract, the fantastical, and the musical, combining
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it was longlisted for the National Book Award in poetry in 2015. Terrance Hayes is a South Carolinian by birth and his last volume won the NBA in 2010! That may have been the first year I read the poetry nominees.

Terrance is also a visual artist, and so there is some art going on in these poems - painting and painters, form, music; also some experimental forms based on genetic mapping (I think?) etc.

My absolute favorite is "The Rose Has Teeth" about a piano. You can see the
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
The last three poems are the best in the collection, so says me. A non critic. This was a two star read until those three poems saved the book for me.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Terrance Hayes collection of poems, How to Be Drawn is a fascinating group of poems, filled with jazzy rhythms. There is a lot of pain but the overall impression is of an exuberance of life, of celebration.

Hayes uses many different kinds of forms here-tables, catalogs, a fascinating group of tribes and their customs, as well as your more typical poem. The collection is always interesting, both formally and emotionally.
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc
So I just finished the book I got while visiting bookstores with Cathleen last weekend. How to Be Drawn is a slim volume of poetry by contemporary African American poet Terrence Hayes. My favorite section was the 2nd (of 3) which contained several elegies to those dead or otherwise forgotten by society, either figures from Hayes's personal life or historical/artistic figures. My favorite was Black Confederate Ghost Stories His work also reminds me of that of Whitman with it's focus on the indivi ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The poetry here digs into, grazes, taps into, flows in and out of and grows from other art forms. Love that!
We have poems, so fascinating, born of: dissonant and colliding and melding color, crime reports, charts, maps and so much more.
Teeming with life.
So much packed in here. Wow!
A poem by Terrence Hayes that I love but not from this volume follows:

How to Draw a Perfect Circle

I can imitate the spheres of the model’s bod
Sidik Fofana
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEWS: Poem about Spades says it all.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry

There are several 5 star poems that just made sit and go Whoa!, and then there are some long ("playful") experiments that I either didn't get or didn't care about. The length of these experiments (especially that Vladimir thing) had me docking this one a star just for spite.
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't read poetry and so I have no idea how to review it. What I can tell you is that it's been a long time since I couldn't put a book down because it moved me intellectually and viscerally. It's no surprise to me that Hayes is a trained visual artist; each poem is a visual work of art. That's what I can tell you. And here's a bit from one of my favorites, New York Poem:
...on sci-fi bridges and isles
of New York, on the rooftops in Chinatown
where Miles Davis is pumping in,
and someone is tellin
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm sure I didn't understand everything in this book, but I liked it.
Michael Troncale
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The personal is political” is a phrase that’s always bugged me. It means that every problem or dilemma, whether it be moral, philosophical, or spiritual, can be defined and solved by politics. This attitude has led to innumerable examples of literature where writers present social and political issues as self-righteous polemics. One gets the feeling reading work of this nature that the writer is not very interested in solving the problem they are railing against: they are more interested in con ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I have never really come across a poetry book that I didn't like. So when several poems into this and not liking any so far, I paused and tried to figure out why. Then I realized that I had only read poems by women (as far as I can remember). I persevered and finished this, but it was rare for me to enjoy any of the poems in this book. The book is divided up into 3 sections one I really didn't like, one that was okay, and one I thought pretty good. So that averages out to about a 3 star for me. ...more
Phil Overeem
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Hayes’ playfulness (through punning and free association, for example) and characteristic formal daring add a real richness to the truths he captures. Wonderful work, here.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
everything about this collection is great
Jess ✩
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
read for class, and this was different.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-poets, poetry
Quite possibly the best poem title ever is "Instructions for a Seance with Vladimirs."
Keith Taylor
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hayes has engaged so many things in his poetry, not least of which is the very idea of beauty. I found that the dominant theme of this book, although it is not the one usually referred to. Here's a short review I did a few years ago
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The most interesting aspect of this book is the formatting the author uses.
Some of the poems within are *graphs*. It's pretty lit.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is one of those times when I wish there was the ability to award an additional half-star; five (5) stars would of be too many and four (4) stars would be too few. Terrance Hayes' current collection of poetry reminds me of Claudia Rankine's award-winning book, "Citizen" which was and is so incredibly prescient.

In "How to be Drawn" Terence Hayes explores the pathos of the African-American experience in various forms of word play and structure not unlike that of my favorite word artist Jenny H
Patricia Murphy
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
At once contemporary and timeless, this collection asks the reader to embark on a musical study of history, family, and socioeconomic markers that are somehow both very personal and universal. As with all of Hayes' books, I left feeling better informed about how others walk around in this world. Such careful attention to language and detail. And the endings zing. I'm getting notes of Hicok and Bibbins here, but also some form play a la Rankine.

Some of my favorite moments:

I now know "bolt" is to
Connie  Kuntz
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, enlightening poetry that should be read out loud, but is also a deep pleasure to read in silence. Hayes's poetry is creatively formatted and his word play is a forceful and mighty. Hayes is a master of homonyms; his usage is never corny, but stunning and unique. Should I list examples? Should I cite some references? Should I take a leap of faith and just hope you find this on your own?

Okay. A few moments that stand out:
James Brown
Format of poem of "thief"
His aunt, the carpenter
Craig Werner
When he's on, Terrance Hayes is one of the best poets writing today: check out Wind in a Box, Lighthead and Hip Logic. How to Be Drawn isn't Hayes at his best; it feels like a transitional volume, one in which he's experimenting with forms that are likely to show up in more fully developed ways on down the road. But I'm unlikely to come back to this collection often. There are some high points: "Like Mercy," "New Jersey Poem" and the wonderful tribute to James Brown in "How To Be Drawn to Troubl ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Really wanted to like this more than I did.
I couldn't get into any of the rhythms. The subject matter was probably interesting but lost underneath too many words, which I didn't think was possible.
The Just never felt like I got anywhere with any but two of these poems - How to Draw an Invisible man and New Jersey Poem. Instructions for a Seance with Vladimirs was also good but seemed to drag on longer than necessary.
Perhaps partly his form, which is sometimes experimental and free verse-y and s
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
"Don't you lie about who you are sometimes and then realize the lie is true?"

Hayes investigates the continued hypocrisy of self-definition, but he also selves into the spatial here, where the visual intersects the visceral intersects the vocal. And to some degree, the exploration is interesting/ successful. But overall, that exploration does tend to dilute the message for the sake of the medium. And that is not necessarily meeting my expectations.
Clark Knowles
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Tremendous book. "Black Confederate Ghost Story" should be required reading. So many powerful, lyric, structurally challenging, and socially incisive. I'm looking forward to reading more of Hayes work.
Darrick Williams
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This one by Terrance was good, but not great for me. It felt kinda slow, his words came close but didn't grab me. I'm sure I'll read it again some time later,and maybe I'll get a different outcome.
Jackie Braje
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Honestly a perfect collection.
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Terrance Hayes is the author of six poetry collections, including American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, How to Be Drawn, and Lighthead, which won the National Book Award. He is a MacArthur Fellow and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.

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