Award-winning Poet Terrance Hayes ’94 to Present 2016 Lois Walters Coker Lecture

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Hartsville, S.C. – April 14, 2016  –  Poet, professor and recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant”  Terrance Hayes ’94 will return to his alma mater on Thursday, April 28 to give the 2016 Lois Walters Coker Lecture. The event, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Watson Theater of the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center, is free and open to the public.

Terrance Hayes is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow. His most recent poetry collection is “How To Be Drawn” (Penguin 2015). His previous collection, “Lighthead” (Penguin 2010), was the winner of the 2010 National Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hurston-Wright award. Hayes’s other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a profile in The New York Times Magazine.

Hayes’s first book, “Muscular Music” (Tia Chucha Press 1999), won both a Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His second book, “Hip Logic” (Penguin 2002), was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for both the Los Angeles Time Book Award and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. “Wind In a Box” (Penguin 2006), a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award finalist, was named one of the best books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly.

Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina and educated at Coker College where he studied painting and English and was an Academic All-American on the men’s basketball team. After receiving his M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997, he taught in southern Japan, Columbus, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana. Hayes returned to Pittsburgh in 2001 and taught for 12 years at Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh as a professor of English in the fall of 2013.

About the Lois Walters Coker Lecture Series

The annual Lois Walters Coker Lecture Series is a program established in 2000 to bring internationally recognized experts in science, history and public affairs to campus. Among those who have given the lecture are U.S. Senator Elizabeth H. Dole; Holmes Rolston, III, winner of the 2003 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion; Lucille Clifton, former Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland; and Yale University Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies James Gustave Speth.

Lois Walters Coker, now deceased, was the daughter of the late Theodore A. Walters, former Idaho Attorney General and Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She came to Hartsville in 1936 when she married Robert R. Coker, a leading agriculturist and businessman, who for many years headed Coker Pedigreed Seed Company. Robert Coker was the grandson of Major James Lide Coker, founder of Coker College and Sonoco Products Company.

Lois Walters Coker loved and supported learning throughout her life. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Idaho and a Master of Arts in American History from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Idaho, at a college in Washington, D.C., and in Hartsville’s public schools. In addition to researching and writing a history of Hartsville, Walters Coker served as the national director of the Tamassee D.A.R. School near Greenville and on the Darlington County School Board.

For more information on Hayes, visit For more information about the lecture, contact Laura Hoxworth at (843) 857-4103 or



Coker College is a student-focused, private liberal arts college located in Hartsville, South Carolina. Coker combines round table, discussion-based learning with hands-on experiences to encourage active participation in and out of the classroom. A supportive, close-knit community prepares Coker students with the confidence and practical life skills they need to reach their personal best, in college and beyond.

Founded in 1908, Coker is a bachelor’s and master’s degree-granting institution and competes in 21 NCAA Division II sports. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review, and by Washington Monthly as one of the Southeast's "Best Bang for the Buck" colleges.