1. “Galaxies Inside His Head.” Terrance Hayes uses poetry to show that there is more to him, and to anyone, than what you expect.
“Hayes has written poems that speak to, or for, the 1980s TV star Mr. T; the black nationalist poet Amiri Baraka; the segregationist senator (and secret father of a black daughter) Strom Thurmond; the Russian modernist poet and provocateur Vladimir Mayakovsky; and the poet Etheridge Knight, who began writing in prison. His most revealing impersonations, though, invoke chameleonic pop stars like Michael Jackson and David Bowie. His work explores multiple identities and multiple forms of masculinity—how to be, or become, various kinds of men—but it is also an art of evasion: To become a full-time poet, Hayes had to leave a house of prison guards. Hayes works to escape not the African-American identity but the demand that he (or anyone) express that identity in the same way all the time. When Hayes read in South Carolina last month, ’a young white girl pretty much accosted me and said, ’Why do you write so much about being black?’’ he told me. It wasn’t the first time he was asked. ’Because I am black. I’m black, I’m Southern, I’m male, I’m obsessive, I’m weird, I’m half-blind,’ he answered.”