Hayes reads tonight at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Hayes reads tonight at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute at 7 pm. RS

There have been many attempts to reckon with the rolling shocks of Donald Trump's election and presidency, but nobody has done it better than Terrance Hayes in American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, a collection of 70 sonnets written during the first 200 days of Trump's reign. Following in the grand tradition of the American sonneteer (see: Wanda Coleman, Gerald Stern, Jean Toomer, Rita Dove), Hayes employs the form to wrestle with America's particular paradoxes and contradictions. His sense of humor and powerful musical phrasing serve as sturdy handrails as he guides us through the fucked-up time warp we're living in. In the line I can't get out of my head, Hayes addresses his past and future assassin, roping in the Trumps before Trump and all the Trumps to come: "It is not enough / To love you. It is not enough to want you destroyed."

And did you see Hayes speaking about the importance of Cave Canem in the world of poetry specifically and literature in general? Bust out your handkerchief: