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The poems in Terrance Hayes's book, Muscular Music, are atypical of most writers' first books of poetry. One cannot categorize these poems simply as confessional, narrative, or lyrical. They are all these things at once. They move beyond usual explorations of childhood or family to blend themes and influences that range from Neruda to Coltrane, Fat Albert to Orpheus, John The poems in Terrance Hayes's book, Muscular Music, are atypical of most writers' first books of poetry. One cannot categorize these poems simply as confessional, narrative, or lyrical. They are all these things at once. They move beyond usual explorations of childhood or family to blend themes and influences that range from Neruda to Coltrane, Fat Albert to Orpheus, John Shaft to Gershwin. This book gives us an almost Whitmanesque account of an America, and an African American, replete with grace and imperfection. Moreover, it gives us a voice that does not sacrifice truth for music or music for accessibility. At the end of a poem that includes Bill Strayhorn, Andrew Carnegie, and Dante, Hayes says, "I know one of the rings of hell is reserved for men who refuse to weep. So I let it come. And it does not move from me." These lines reflect what is always at the core of Hayes's poetry: a faithfulness, not to traditional forms or themes, but to heart and honesty. It is a core bounded by and cradled by a passion for the music in all things.


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The poems in Terrance Hayes's book, Muscular Music, are atypical of most writers' first books of poetry. One cannot categorize these poems simply as confessional, narrative, or lyrical. They are all these things at once. They move beyond usual explorations of childhood or family to blend themes and influences that range from Neruda to Coltrane, Fat Albert to Orpheus, John The poems in Terrance Hayes's book, Muscular Music, are atypical of most writers' first books of poetry. One cannot categorize these poems simply as confessional, narrative, or lyrical. They are all these things at once. They move beyond usual explorations of childhood or family to blend themes and influences that range from Neruda to Coltrane, Fat Albert to Orpheus, John Shaft to Gershwin. This book gives us an almost Whitmanesque account of an America, and an African American, replete with grace and imperfection. Moreover, it gives us a voice that does not sacrifice truth for music or music for accessibility. At the end of a poem that includes Bill Strayhorn, Andrew Carnegie, and Dante, Hayes says, "I know one of the rings of hell is reserved for men who refuse to weep. So I let it come. And it does not move from me." These lines reflect what is always at the core of Hayes's poetry: a faithfulness, not to traditional forms or themes, but to heart and honesty. It is a core bounded by and cradled by a passion for the music in all things.

30 review for Muscular Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meher

    "Now that my afro’s as big as Shaft’s I feel a little better about myself. How it warms my bullet-head in Winter..." Terrance Hayes is such an important poet for Black America, and he gets the community's experiences with systemic racism, pop culture, gang warfare pat down. Watch for the section 'Yummy Suite' - a collection of poems on the devastating shooing of 14 year-old Shavon at the hands of 11 year-old Yummy. Shafro, Yummy Suite, Late, HowYouBeens, Pittsburgh, and Poet Dying At The Window a "Now that my afro’s as big as Shaft’s I feel a little better about myself. How it warms my bullet-head in Winter..." Terrance Hayes is such an important poet for Black America, and he gets the community's experiences with systemic racism, pop culture, gang warfare pat down. Watch for the section 'Yummy Suite' - a collection of poems on the devastating shooing of 14 year-old Shavon at the hands of 11 year-old Yummy. Shafro, Yummy Suite, Late, HowYouBeens, Pittsburgh, and Poet Dying At The Window are all incredible poems worthy of applause.

  2. 5 out of 5

    JTRyan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. From "Salami (A Manifesto)," this line nearly ruined the whole collection for me: "...I think I'd like to be (a) a prison guard. I'd carry a dozen clattering silver keys and where striped pants. From "Noir: Orpheus," this stanza stuck with me: Love should be a tow truck-- What rescues our stalled, abandoned hearts; What leads us back to repair. Love should save us, But it won't. From "Salami (A Manifesto)," this line nearly ruined the whole collection for me: "...I think I'd like to be (a) a prison guard. I'd carry a dozen clattering silver keys and where striped pants. From "Noir: Orpheus," this stanza stuck with me: Love should be a tow truck-- What rescues our stalled, abandoned hearts; What leads us back to repair. Love should save us, But it won't.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike Hammer

    creative, powerful, funny poems hayes always has great lines his pems always have a little bit of music in them he has some poems about jazz and pittsburgh and love its a solid first collection

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    Love should be a tow truck -- What rescues our stalled, abandoned hearts; What leads us back to repair. Love should save us, But it won't. Love should be a tow truck -- What rescues our stalled, abandoned hearts; What leads us back to repair. Love should save us, But it won't.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danielle DeTiberus

    These poems are full of life— they call to be spoken out-loud from the page. Hayes writes as if singing, as if his words were caught mid-conversation. Some of these poems are an excellent study in how to use rhythm, syntax, and cadence to make the reader want to bring your words to life with her own mouth. “At Pegasus,” Tenderness,” and “When The Neighbors Fight” are especially honest and unexpected poems.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    A great collection with many poems that are moving, funny, and provocative in meaningful ways. "Yummy Suite," "Late; for My Mother," "Derrick Poem (the Lost World)" and "Goliath Poem" were some of my favorites. A great collection with many poems that are moving, funny, and provocative in meaningful ways. "Yummy Suite," "Late; for My Mother," "Derrick Poem (the Lost World)" and "Goliath Poem" were some of my favorites.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    An incredibly interesting melange of sights, sounds, memories & pop culture iconography. I don't quite understand the arrangement and the overall collectedness of this volume. Good, but often not cohesive. An incredibly interesting melange of sights, sounds, memories & pop culture iconography. I don't quite understand the arrangement and the overall collectedness of this volume. Good, but often not cohesive.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    See review of Wind in a Box. Ditto.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather Moore

    Hayes' poems moved me into complete love for him a a poet. He has a talent beyond the average mind, and a sensitivity to human nature that makes be desirous to speak with such a mind. Hayes' poems moved me into complete love for him a a poet. He has a talent beyond the average mind, and a sensitivity to human nature that makes be desirous to speak with such a mind.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Camara

    One of my favorite books of poetry of all time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy Kitchell

    fresh voice...fresh poems

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Whip-quick and deeply musical. At turns flashy and sincere.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mona Kareem

    "what happens when a dream explodes? does it hush?" "what happens when a dream explodes? does it hush?"

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex Salinas

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Roberts

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Sweet

  18. 4 out of 5

    Doctorwendy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mattl

  20. 4 out of 5

    D'Anne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Ramirez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erica Wright

  25. 4 out of 5

    Conor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Rothman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Will Fonseca

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 5 out of 5

    Billy Templeton

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