Dan Chiasson at The New Yorker:
Hayes is forty-three and lives in Pittsburgh, where he is a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon. In 2010, his volume “Lighthead” won a National Book Award, and last year he received a MacArthur “genius” grant. He played basketball for Coker College, in South Carolina, where he was an Academic All-American, but he has the bounding imagination of someone fortified and defended, for years, by shyness. If you judge a poem by how big a chunk of reality it smuggles into language before returning it, transformed, you will have a hard time beating this catalogue from “Wigphrastic”:
Nonslip polyurethane patches, superfine lace,
Isis wigs, Cleopatra wigs, Big Booty Judy wigs
under the soft radar-streaked music of Klymaxx
singing, “The men all pause when I walked into the room.”
An ekphrastic poem is one that describes a work of art; “Wigphrastic” describes Ellen Gallagher’s “DeLuxe,” a portfolio of sixty works on paper that depict, among other things, vintage ads for hair straighteners and skin whiteners.