How to Be Drawn

Finalist, National Book Awards 2015 for Poetry

How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes book cover, 2015
ISBN 978-0143126881
Penguin/Penguin Random House
Terrance Hayes author photo
Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead, Winner of the 2010 National Book Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books are Wind In a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. More about this author >

Award Years

Award Status

Award Categories

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.

Judges Citation

Radically inventive, politically charged, and beautiful, Terrance Hayes's How To Be Drawn is also highly accessible. Yes, there are poems with charts, lists, real and imaginary maps. And, yes, there are poems that are homages to old almanacs and TV shows and musicians. This book can teach us how to be drawn but also how to live. And how to cry out in the night: "Please, please, please, please, please, Honey, please don't go."