Carnegie Mellon University
December 08, 2011

Terrance Hayes Appointed to President Obama's National Student Poets Program

Terrance Hayes Appointed to President Obama's National Student Poets Program

Award-winning poet and Department of English Professor Terrance Hayes has been chosen to serve as a panelist for President Barack Obama's new National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the country's highest honor for young poets presenting original work. Hayes is one of four literary leaders who will judge students who received a National Scholastic Art & Writing Award for poetry. Five high school students will be selected to serve for a year as national poetry ambassadors.

"This is good exposure for CMU's Creative Writing Program to kids who are interested in writing," said Hayes, who won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry. "Poetry seems to be becoming more popular in high school, but there's room to grow around what their sense of it is - from slam to hip hop and the relationship between page and stage."

NSPP was created by the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities, which is chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a partnership with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The winning student poets will receive college scholarships and opportunities to present their work at writing and poetry events. They also will be featured at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Hayes also has been selected as a 2011 United States Artist (USA) Fellow in Literature. Each year, USA honors 50 of the nation's finest artists with fellowship awards of $50,000. Previous USA Fellows include visual artist Kara Walker, poet Martín Espada, actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith and choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones. In the 2011 literature class, Hayes joins former and current MacArthur Fellowship winners Campbell McGrath and A. E. Stallings.

"I'm in good company," said Hayes, who is the USA Zell Fellow, supported by Helen Zell of Chicago, IL. "What's most validating is that I submitted all new work."

Included in his submission entry was the recently released "Who are the Tribes" chapbook from Pilot Books. Bound in a hand-stitched double pamphlet and only produced in a limited letterpress edition of 300, the book contains Hayes' illustrations and a single poem, broken into 15 parts.

Hayes hopes to use the USA Fellowship to spend the summer abroad and will continue to write "one poem at a time."

Hayes joined the CMU faculty in 2001 and teaches beginning and advanced poetry workshops in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Department of English. He has written four books of poetry: "Lighthead," which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; "Wind in a Box," which was named one of the Best 100 Books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly; "Hip Logic," which won the National Poetry Series Open Competition and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and "Muscular Music," which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

His other honors include two Pushcart Prizes, four "Best American Poetry" selections, a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Pictured at the beginning of this story is the cover of Terrance Hayes' new chapbook, "Who are the Tribes."