that infinitely expanding shelter

Beauty can’t be canceled. O’Connor is problematic, but she’s indispensable. I think of Calvino’s “Uses of Literature,” his notion of a universal library that’s always expanding around a core of canonical books. The core may be less fixed for those of us looking for alternatives to a white, male, Eurocentric canon—but the important thing is that infinitely expanding shelter, which is tethered to history but always gravitating toward what’s still outside it, toward what Calvino calls the “apocryphal.” No books are removed from this library. No books are burned. I’m not going to remove Faulkner. I’m not going to remove Wallace Stevens. I see them as flawed, complicated, dimensional people. 

- Terrance Hayes, from his Paris Review interview. You can read the whole thing here.


what this country is like

Well, the English sonnet is twelve lines of thinking what you want to think, and then in the final couplet, the volta, you change your mind. I think this, I think this, I think this—­and only then, I think that. In the Italian sonnet, you think what you’re thinking for eight lines, two quatrains—­I think this, I think this—­and then you change your mind, and for six lines it’s, I think that. Of course the English were like, I’m right for twelve lines and wrong for two. That’s the kind of thinking that led to colonialism … Maybe the Italian sonnet is more reflective of Enlightenment thinking. 

The premise of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018) was very simple—I’ve got to change my mind more than once for it to be an American sonnet. It has to have several turns, to have voltas all over it, because that’s what this country is like, zigzagging between insight and blindness, beauty and ugliness, joy and pain. 

- Terrance Hayes, from his Paris Review interview. You can read the whole thing here.