Our Instrument is Language

A Conversation with Terrance Hayes on the Voice of Music and Visual Arts

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, winner of the National Book Award; Wind in a Box; Hip Logic, National Poetry Series winner; and Muscular Music, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Of his work, Cornelius Eady has said: “First you’ll marvel at his skill, his near perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you’ll notice the grace, the tenderness, the unblinking truth telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world.” His honors include a Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2014, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He is professor of creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh, where he lives with his family.

On October 30, 2014, Terrance Hayes visited the Writing House to give a Q&A and reading for Interlochen Arts Academy creative writing students. During his visit, Interlochen Review editors Allen Smith and Mickayla Noel, along with creative writing senior, Jehan Segal, sat down in the Interlochen Public Radio’s recording studio with Hayes to discuss how art and music culture affect his writing, the structure of his book Hip Logic, and how he creates his own forms of poetry.