To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight
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In these works based on his Bagley Wright lectures on the poet Etheridge Knight, Terrance Hayes offers not quite a biography but a compilation “as speculative, motley, and adrift as Knight himself.” Personal yet investigative, poetic yet scholarly, this multi-genre collection of writings and drawings enacts one poet’s search for another and in doing so constellates a powerful vision of black literature and art in America.
The future Etheridge Knight biographer will simultaneously write an autobiography. Fathers who go missing and fathers who are distant will become the bones of the stories.
There will be a fable about a giant who grew too tall to be kissed by his father. My father must have kissed me when I was boy. I can’t really say. . . . By the time I was eleven or even ten years old I was as tall as him. I was six inches taller than him by the time I was fifteen. My biography about Knight would be about intimacy, heartache.
Terrance Hayes is the author of How to Be Drawn, which received a 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; and three other award-winning poetry collections. He is the poetry editor at the New York Times Magazine and also teaches at the University y of Pittsburgh. American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin will also be forthcoming in 2018.
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Publisher: Wave Books
Publication Date: 09-04-2018
Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 Years
Series: Bagley Wright Lecture Series
Terrance Hayes is the author of How to Be Drawn, which received a 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry, Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry, and three other award-winning poetry collections. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. He is the poetry editor at the New York Times Magazine and also teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin will also be forthcoming in 2018.
What Were the Critical Decisions That Defined the Trajectory of This Life?
When I began collecting interviews and stories about Etheridge Knight more than a decade ago, I said, mostly to the few people I cornered for interviews, that I'd never write a biography because it would take more than a decade to do it. This is not a biography. But perhaps it will encourage a future Knight biographer. Consider this a collection of essays as speculative, motley, and adrift as Knight himself. His various personas grace the book covers that are at any given moment resting beside my bed or on my desk. The bespectacled Knight in a prison cell on the back of 1968's Poems from Prison; the nappy bohemian Knight on the cover of 1973's Belly Song and Other Poems; the Mississippi Knight in cap and overalls on the cover 1980's Born of a Woman: New and Selected Poems; and the sober intellectual Knight on the cover of 1986's The Essential Etheridge Knight. Because he has been on my mind for virtually all my writing life, he has appeared from time to time among my poems: influencing perspective (as in "Poet Dying at the Window," from my first book), influencing voice (as in "The Blue Etheridge" from my third book), influencing form (as in "Portrait of Etheridge Knight in the Style of a Crime Report," from my fifth book). Each time I've returned to my work on Knight between publications of my own poetry books, only the impossibility of a biography has remained consistent. He remains both a muse and mystery.