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Lighthead by Terrance Hayes: A Review
Lighthead is a collection of poems by Terrance Hayes, an American poet and educator who won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2010 for this work. The poems in Lighthead explore themes such as identity, race, culture, history, music, love, and mortality with wit, humor, and lyricism. Hayes employs various forms and styles, from sonnets to anagrams, from free verse to prose poems, from haiku to hip hop. He also draws on a range of influences and references, from Greek mythology to jazz legends, from Shakespeare to Kanye West.
The title of the collection suggests a state of being both light-hearted and light-headed, a balance between playfulness and seriousness, between clarity and confusion. Hayes invites the reader to join him in his quest for understanding and expression, as he writes in the opening poem \"Lighthead's Guide to the Galaxy\": \"You don't need a spaceship / To find a poet. / Look around you / Wherever you are.\" He also challenges the reader to question their assumptions and perspectives, as he writes in the closing poem \"Ars Poetica\": \"The best way / To speak to a poem / Is to say nothing / And listen.\"
Lighthead is a remarkable achievement by one of the most innovative and influential poets of our time. It showcases Hayes's mastery of language and craft, his creativity and intelligence, his humor and humanity. It is a book that will delight, surprise, and inspire anyone who loves poetry.The poems in Lighthead are not only rich in language and imagery, but also in meaning and insight. Hayes explores various aspects of his identity as a black man, a poet, a lover, a father, and a citizen in a complex and often contradictory world. He does not shy away from addressing the issues of racism, violence, oppression, and injustice that affect him and his community, but he also celebrates the joys and pleasures of life, such as music, art, love, and family. He shows a keen awareness of the historical and cultural contexts that shape his experience, but he also experiments with new forms and perspectives that challenge the conventions and expectations of poetry.
One of the most striking features of Lighthead is Hayes's use of the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presentation format that consists of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. Hayes adapts this format to create 20-line poems that are inspired by various images, ranging from paintings to photographs to cartoons. These poems are playful and inventive, but also reveal Hayes's ability to connect seemingly disparate elements into a coherent and meaningful whole. For example, in \"Pecha Kucha: The Golden Shovel,\" Hayes uses the last words of each line from Gwendolyn Brooks's famous poem \"We Real Cool\" to create his own poem that reflects on his own generation's struggles and aspirations. In \"Pecha Kucha: The Blue Terrance,\" Hayes uses an image of a blue guitar to riff on Wallace Stevens's poem \"The Man with the Blue Guitar,\" while also incorporating references to Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.
Lighthead is a testament to Hayes's versatility and originality as a poet. He demonstrates his mastery of various poetic forms and techniques, such as sonnets, anagrams, haiku, rhyme, meter, alliteration, assonance, and enjambment. He also shows his range of tone and voice, from humorous to serious, from ironic to sincere, from confessional to impersonal. He creates poems that are both accessible and challenging, both familiar and surprising, both personal and universal. He proves that poetry can be both lightheaded and lighthearted. ec8f644aee