2010 National Book Award Winner Terrance Hayes Talks About Editing Ploughshares

Ploughshares' Guest Editor Terrance Hayes

2010 National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes talks about editing the 2010 winter issue of Ploughshares, Emerson's award-winning literary journal.

kim mclarin and terrance hayes

Carrie Fuller
December 03, 2010

Reading the spring 1996 issue of Ploughshares, Terrance Hayes was struck by Carl Phillips’s poem The Blue Castrato, except that he misread the name and thought Phillips was writing about The Blue Castro.

“I went on to write all these ‘blue’ poems like The Blue Castro and the The Blue Borgese that are in my book Wind in a Box,” Hayes said, “all because I misread the name of Carl Phillips’s poem.”

But tangents like that are good for Hayes, who was recently named the 2010 National Book Award Winner for Poetry. He calls it, “being in the water,” when an idea or thought takes hold of him.

“I went on to write all these ‘blue’ poems like The Blue Castro and the The Blue Borgese that are in my book Wind in a Box, all because I misread the name of Carl Phillips’s poem.”

Phillips went on to edit the spring 2003 issue of Ploughshares, and coming full circle, Hayes edited the winter edition (the latest issue) of the award-winning literary magazine.

As editor, Hayes wanted to include a variety of work. “I was looking for a range of visions and experiences…whatever notion people have of perfect poems.”

Hayes is the author of Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), for which he won the 2010 National Book Award, Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006), Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), and Muscular Music (Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Classics, 2005, and Tia Chucha Press, 1999). His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a National Poetry Series award, a Pushcart Prize, two Best American Poetry selections, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Hayes read from his issue of Ploughshares and from Lighthead at a book reading and signing at Emerson on December 2.

Ploughshares is published at Emerson and was co-founded by Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor DeWitt Henry. A prominent writer guest-edits each issue of Ploughshares and directly solicits half the contents.

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