Terrance Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on November 18, 1971. He received a BA from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, where he studied painting and English and was an Academic All-American on the men’s basketball team, and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh writing program.
Terrance Hayes is the author of seven collections of poetry, including American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Poets, 2018), which received the 2019 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for poetry, the 2020 Bobbitt Prize, and was a finalist for the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2018 T. S. Eliot Prize; How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry; Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006); Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
He is also the author of the prose collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018), which received the 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Non-Fiction.
About his work, Cornelius Eady has said: “First you’ll marvel at his skill, his near-perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you’ll notice the grace, the tenderness, the unblinking truth-telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world.”
He has received many honors and awards, including a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, and three Best American Poetry selections, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2014, he was named a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.
He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2017 and serves as an ex officio member of the Academy’s Board of Directors. In 2022, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is currently professor of English at New York University and resides in New York City.
How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015)
Lighthead (Penguin, 2010)
Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)
Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002)
Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999)
To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave Books, 2018)