Lighthead


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By John Freeman. Poetry has two kinds of music. There is the sound it makes when read aloud, and then it has an inner composition, too -- that strange, occult rhythm verses make when your mind, not your lips, mouths the words. Terrance Hayes is one of the rare poets who can braid these two sounds into a kind of harmony. The book of 42 poems takes up war and drunkenness.


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The pieces riff on everyone from Wallace Stevens to Fela Kuti, whose rich tribal beats would be this book's soundtrack, if it had one. But Hayes isn't simply jive-talking. The battle between darkness and light -- and all their metaphorical associations -- gives the poems' brisk, alliterative sounds a depth that makes you read them twice. Subverting what we expect, talking to the reader as if that individual were sitting next to him on a bar stool, Hayes makes poems that flatter our subtlety and make unfussy the business of turning on the imagination's light.

The book is structured in four parts, all of which feature poems inspired by a Japanese presentation that encourages the writer to narrate on 20 images on a single theme. As a result, "Lighthead" is rich from line to line, even when its tongue is in its cheek as it is in the following:. Alternating between poems of remembrance and poems of tribute, Hayes beats out an improvisational credo that is one part braggadocio, two parts American skeptic. The poems are all different styles - the most original is the pecha kucha, Japanese powerpoint presentation where 20 consecutive pictures are flashed for 20 seconds each while the commentary has to fit.

It was developed to make presentations valid and not overblown and long.

Hayes uses that in poetry form. There are also poems which have rhythm and strong vide to them.

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Other poems are even more out of the ordinary, for example Twenty-six Imaginary Tee Shirts, a list of phrases that could be found on a tee shirt. There are also other poems which are commentaries or responses to other artists work, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Marvin Gaye. The themes that are found in these poems vary from race, family, society, relationships, love, hate, etc. The poems will make you smile, sometimes laugh, they are shocking and sometimes dark. One thing is sure overtime you reread them you'll find something new in them and further gain respect for Hayes' incredible talent.

Dec 25, D. Very much worthy of the recognition it has received, including this year's National Book Award. Hayes' poetry is what we most hope for in the art: a natural attention to language that manifests equally in the sound and the sense of it. The auricular pleasures are both audible and subtle: "The bride of eaves or the easy bride of naves. In another, he uses Gwe Very much worthy of the recognition it has received, including this year's National Book Award.

Though there's a pure pleasure to Hayes' inventiveness, there's also immeasurable gravitas in how that knack for invention illuminates the larger world of the collection. View 1 comment. Oct 23, Jesse rated it it was amazing. In this book, Terrence Hayes does something that I've never quite seen done before; he's smoothly synthesized the sound-and-emotion-oriented style of spoken-word poetry with the artful arrangement and order of more conceptual, academic poetry. For that, I have to give him some five-star love, even though a lot of the poems talk a lot about African-American identity and racism in a way that I have a hard time taking into my own experience.

Yet the guy also references David Bowie, Wallace Stevens, In this book, Terrence Hayes does something that I've never quite seen done before; he's smoothly synthesized the sound-and-emotion-oriented style of spoken-word poetry with the artful arrangement and order of more conceptual, academic poetry. Really though, some dazzling stuff here, particularly his invention of the "pecha kucha" form based on a style of Japanese slideshow used for business presentations. There's some game-changing stuff in there. As mentioned before, I love how omnivorous he is with his references and also with his themes; love, family, the personal vs.

For all the brou-ha-ha about the National Book Award committee being so ivory-tower-y, I can't fault them picking this book, at least. It's just so fluid and deft and thoughtful, and perfectly emblematic of how other cultures are slowly infiltrating and destroying the "old dead white men" paradigm of modern poetry, and re-making it into something way more strong and deep and hardy, giving it more of a fighting chance to become a significant part of more people's lives.

This is a service Hayes does without being at all self-conscious, and the fruits of his labor are pretty damn miraculous. Jan 17, rachel rated it liked it Shelves: , black-lit , this-is-america. However, over the days I've read this I've had brief moments at work or driving somew However, over the days I've read this I've had brief moments at work or driving somewhere where I suddenly thought of Hayes' mother's "light-headed, near-comic hairdo" or the sorrow of his brother's extra lbs bearing the weight of their family, or Louis Armstrong riding in the back of a cab after dark, and thought that my half-love might be uncharitable.

Mar 27, James rated it really liked it Shelves: poetry-poetics. I like how Terrance Hayes keeps a distance between himself and his poems. There's an autobiographical element to many of his poems, but it's always playfully elusive, like the "Blue Terrance" poems in Wind in a Box , which is still my favorite book of his. This book is great, too, playful and powerful as Wind in a Box , ambitious in its subject matter and its formal ground-breaking.

I was especially blown away by the "Golden Shovel" poem, which uses the entirety of Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool" I like how Terrance Hayes keeps a distance between himself and his poems.

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I was especially blown away by the "Golden Shovel" poem, which uses the entirety of Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool" for its end words, twice, once to describe a story of a boy and his father at a pool hall and once for a chant delivered by a disaffected urban "we" who "sing until [their] blood is jazz. There are four, I think, pecha kucha poems, each composed of twenty stanzas of four or five lines, each stanza with a title--the stanzas act as "slides" you might see in a business presentation. They are long poems, and there's so much starting and stopping in these poems that it's hard to keep your energy going the whole time, even though there are some great individual sections within each of them.

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In fact, I doubt anyone else could do this form better than Hayes. I just don't think it's a great form to begin with. But just the fact that Hayes would think to borrow the pecha kucha for his poetry shows what an inventor he is, and this book is full of that sort of alchemical crazed artistic energy. Oct 19, Jenny Reading Envy rated it really liked it Shelves: national-book-award-list , poetry , read Poetry like this convinces me I haven't lived enough.

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Sometimes the noise gives up its code And the music is better at saying what I meant to say. Nov 11, Bill rated it it was amazing Shelves: poetry. Feb 03, Dallas Swindell rated it it was amazing. The poems collected by Terrance Hayes into Lighthead brim with a spoken word rhyme and flow all while filling themselves up with the exchange of meditative, burning thought. These collected poems are at times surreal, at times narrative, and at times an updated pecha kucha, but the breath within each line is still singular and imaginative. The result though is an expansive se The poems collected by Terrance Hayes into Lighthead brim with a spoken word rhyme and flow all while filling themselves up with the exchange of meditative, burning thought.

The result though is an expansive sense of wonder and headiness that often moves your eyes to the next line before your mind has fully grasped the weight of the words just read.

Drawing from rhythmic and psychedelic shaman like Kuti and Bowie, Hayes divides words, lines, and ideas at crucial moments to pull you deeper into each poems imagery and poignancy. His poems bleed with a headiness that both expands and contracts the reader, filling your own inner mental void with the universes his ideas inhabit. Jan 10, Kelli rated it it was amazing Shelves: poetry. For people who dig spoken word poetry but find written poetry to be stuffy or inaccessible, I present to you Lighthead by Terrence Hayes.

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Hayes writes about music, relationships, history, and the black experience with an energy that rivals the best spoken word pieces I've seen; the poems seem to come alive off the page. Those who love form will also be pleased as every word is carefully chosen to flow I'm not a poetry major so I can't go into technical specifics.

What is lightheadedness?

Hayes also seems to be the inv For people who dig spoken word poetry but find written poetry to be stuffy or inaccessible, I present to you Lighthead by Terrence Hayes. Hayes also seems to be the inventor of a new form of poetry as far as I can tell based off the Japanese presentation style of pecha kucha, which involves 20 short flashes of an idea or story presented together.

It's fantastic to see it in poetic form. I definitely recommend this and so does the National Book Award, for which this was a winner.


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Feb 23, Danielle rated it it was amazing Shelves: poetry , own , readsoullit , , favorites. I'm in love with this collection. I will be revisiting these poems forever, I think. Apr 14, Rita rated it liked it. Very referential, requires a large commitment on the part of the reader. May 01, Kristi rated it it was amazing.

Poetry that begs to be spoken aloud, which in my mind is the best kind. May 11, Austin Araujo rated it it was amazing Shelves: mfa , , poetry. Jan 24, Phil Overeem rated it really liked it. Pecha kuchas: interesting one inspired by Fela songs. When this guy's good, he's really good. Feb 05, Stephanie rated it it was amazing Shelves: poetry. Carp Poem by Terrance Hayes After I have parked below the spray paint caked in the granite grooves of the Fredrick Douglass Middle School sign where men and women sized children loiter like shadows draped in the outsized denim, jerseys, bangles, braids, and boots that mean I am no longer young, afte i expected to like this, i liked it even more than expected.

Apr 20, Karissa rated it really liked it.

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