"National Book Award–winning poet Hayes plunges into creative nonfiction with this book about another poet, Etheridge Knight, cautioning readers that 'this is not a biography.' Throughout, Hayes challenges genre constraints, bringing together personal reflections, drawings, and poems by Knight and himself, and constructing a work that is part speculative biography, part autobiography, and part critical essay. . . . 'How does someone become a poet?' In this wonderfully lyrical text, Hayes suggests it isn't in the details of an individual's life, but through a hard-to-trace yet vital network of influences."—Publishers Weekly
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.