Any publication of a Terrance Hayes poem is an event for celebrating. I like it when they pop up in the New Yorker, surprising me on a weekday afternoon. Some folks on this list, myself included, love sonnets, so this one should scratch an itch.
A person in the know tells me that Terrance ("cheaters yearn") has actually been added to the NYer staff as its new poetry editor. That marks the first time that the reins have been handed from a MV favorite–Paul Muldoon–to a MV favorite. And it means there will be lots more great stuff coming to my mailbox for the foreseeable future. Enjoy these 14 lines. -ed.
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN
The black poet would love to say his century began
With Hughes or, God forbid, Wheatley, but actually
It began with all the poetry weirdos & worriers, warriors,
Poetry whiners & winos falling from ship bows, sunset
Bridges & windows. In a second I’ll tell you how little
Writing rescues. My hunch is that Sylvia Plath was not
Especially fun company. A drama queen, thin-skinned,
And skittery, she thought her poems were ordinary.
What do you call a visionary who does not recognize
Her vision? Orpheus was alone when he invented writing.
His manic drawing became a kind of writing when he sent
His beloved a sketch of an eye with an X struck through it.
He meant I am blind without you. She thought he meant
I never want to see you again. It is possible he meant that, too.