Preview: Terrance Hayes

Jim Fischer

When I caught up with poet Terrance Hayes, he was on his way to a painting open studio.

Indeed, painting was Hayes' first passion. Painting, poetry, basketball. Not always in that order.

"I started an art club with my teacher in the third grade. It's what I did in high school and college, and sort of how I thought of myself," Hayes said.

Hayes studied painting and English at Coker College. He chose Coker because his other final choice didn't have a basketball team. He would be named an Academic All-American during his career.

But slowly, poetry became his priority.

"I read a particular poem in college, and I was struck by it. I had never felt that way about a piece of visual art before," he recalled. "I found I was affected by poems, by literature, more deeply than visual art.

"I still paint regularly (in the open studio, Hayes was working on a series of paintings of singer Nina Simone), but it can't match the immersion I have as a poet, writing and teaching every day."

Hayes' latest book of poems, "How to Be Drawn," reflects on a number of topics, from identity to the basic desire to make a mark, at least in part through the lens of drawing and being the subject of a drawing.

"They're poems about art, and about thinking about art," he said. "But also about the practice of making."

This last part will be the focus of Hayes' talk at CCAD.

"I'll read a couple poems and show a couple slides, but I'm most excited about doing a Q&A. The idea that I can show up, not to make so much a presentation but just get to talk. I personally try to persuade all of my audiences that they're makers."

Hayes is happy to be returning to Columbus, where he taught at Columbus State Community College and Capital University while his wife was pursuing her master of fine arts at Ohio State University.

"It's changed a bit over the years," said Hayes, who now teaches at the University of Pittsburgh after 12 years at Carnegie Mellon University. "But we still have friends there. There are great poets and a great community there."

Canzani Center Auditorium

6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10

60 Cleveland Ave., Downtown