From the National Book Award–winning author ofLighthead, Terrance Hayes, a fascinating collection of graphic reviews and illustrated prose addressing the last century of American poetry—to be published simultaneously with his latest poetry collection,So to Speak
Canonized, overlooked, and forgotten African American poets star in Terrance Hayes’s brilliant contemplations of personal, canonical, and allegorical literary development. Proceeding from Toni Morrison’s aim to expand the landscape of literary imagination inPlaying in the Dark(“I want to draw a map, so to speak, of a critical geography”),Watch Your Languagecharts a lyrical geography of reading and influence in poetry. Illustrated micro-essays, graphic book reviews, biographical prose poems, and nonfiction sketches make reading an imaginative and critical act of watching your language. Hayes has made a kind of poetic guidebook with more questions than answers. “If you don’t see suffering’s potential as art, will it remain suffering?” he asks in one of the lively mock poetry exam questions of this musing, mercurial collection. Hayes’s astonishing drawings and essays literally and figuratively map the acclaimed poet’s routes, roots, and wanderings through the landscape of contemporary poetry.