Watch your language


Canonized, overlooked, and forgotten African American poets star in Terrance Hayes’s brilliant contemplations of personal, canonical, and allegorical literary development. Proceeding from Toni Morrison’s aim to expand the landscape of literary imagination in ‘Playing in the Dark’ (‘I want to draw a map, so to speak, of a critical geography’), ‘Watch Your Language’ charts a lyrical geography of reading and influence in poetry. Illustrated micro-essays, graphic book reviews, biographical prose poems, and nonfiction sketches make reading an imaginative and critical act of watching your language. Hayes has made a kind of poetic guidebook with more questions than answers.

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SKU: 9780143137733 Category: Tag:


Over the last twenty-five years, Terrance Hayes has become one of our most exciting and innovative poets. He has also emerged as a perceptive and groundbreaking chronicler of contemporary poetry, with critical work appearing in publications ranging from Boston Review to The Baffler. His 2018 book on the poet Etheridge Knight, To Float in the Space Between, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. This collection of illustrated critical pieces maps Hayes’s personal, lyrical imagining of poetry, deconstructs the traditional book review, and argues that drawing can and should be as multidimensional and hybrid-minded as poetry making. It includes pieces about basketball and poetry; an essay that relates Gwendolyn Brooks to Toi Derricotte; an introduction to the work of Wanda Coleman; a book review and epistolary prose-poem hybrid titled ‘Letter to Yusef’; illustrated ‘card deck prose poem’ pieces, including an homage to the poet Tim Seibles; selections from

Additional information

Weight 295 g
Dimensions 22.8 × 15.2 × 1.8 cm


Penguin Books









811.509 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K