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Robert Earl Hayden

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Collected Poems (1985) 201 eksemplarer
Angle Of Ascent (1975) 22 eksemplarer
Collected Prose (Poets on Poetry) (1984) 18 eksemplarer
American Journal: Poems (1978) 17 eksemplarer
Selected Poems (1966) 16 eksemplarer
Words in the mourning time; poems (1970) 10 eksemplarer
Frederick Douglass 2 eksemplarer

Associated Works

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000) — Bidragyder — 1,261 eksemplarer
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (1995) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver917 eksemplarer
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1990) — Bidragyder — 751 eksemplarer
World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time (1998) — Bidragyder — 447 eksemplarer
The New Negro: Voices of the Harlem Renaissance (1925) — Forord, nogle udgaver438 eksemplarer
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology (1992) — Bidragyder — 389 eksemplarer
Contemporary American Poetry (1962) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver384 eksemplarer
The Black Poets (1983) — Bidragyder — 356 eksemplarer
The Art of Losing (2010) — Bidragyder — 199 eksemplarer
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song (2020) — Bidragyder — 174 eksemplarer
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Bidragyder — 162 eksemplarer
The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) — Bidragyder — 144 eksemplarer
Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White (1998) — Bidragyder — 118 eksemplarer
Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (2009) — Bidragyder — 114 eksemplarer
Leading From Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead (2007) — Bidragyder — 100 eksemplarer
The 100 Best African American Poems (2010) — Bidragyder — 97 eksemplarer
Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry (2020) — Bidragyder — 91 eksemplarer
Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (2018) — Bidragyder — 87 eksemplarer
The Everyman Anthology of Poetry for Children (1994) — Bidragyder — 72 eksemplarer
Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (1990) — Bidragyder — 65 eksemplarer
The Ecopoetry Anthology (2013) — Bidragyder — 48 eksemplarer
Soulscript: Afro-American Poetry (1970) — Bidragyder — 40 eksemplarer
60 Years of American Poetry (1996) — Bidragyder — 28 eksemplarer
Ten Poems to Say Goodbye (2012) — Bidragyder — 24 eksemplarer
A Good Man: Fathers and Sons in Poetry and Prose (1993) — Bidragyder — 20 eksemplarer
Lyric Potential (1976)nogle udgaver5 eksemplarer
The Ethnic Image in Modern American Literature, 1900-1950 (1984) — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar

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B&C 11-12/14 an independent black poet

Hayden wrote "Those Winter Sundays" in the 1950s, although it did not appear until Ballad of Remembrance was published, in London, in 1962. (Hayden is like Frost in having a "breakout" volume appear first in the UK.) Here it is, a little gem of postwar American poetry, one that has been called a "pure" lyric poem :

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

It was 1996, and Betts was sixteen and incarcerated, "immature, angry, and lost in a nationalism that wouldn't save me." He praises Hayden's maturity and reticence, as well as his conscious if at times painful turning from the Black Arts and Black Power movements of his times. Allegiance was expected from a poet such as Hayden, and he disappointed many by resisting. He asserted instead his artistic independence, a virtue that Rampersad also emphasizes. Hayden once said he did not wish to be a "spokesman" for anything, though he wrote with passion, sustained for a career, on topics and values dear to him. As Betts bluntly puts it, Hayden would not demean his art for identity politics.

BRETT FOSTER
Revisiting Robert Hayden
Our first African American Poet Laureate.

We all know the wise adage "Don't judge a book by its cover," but sometimes that is exactly what we do, and good for us as readers, I say. Books are never merely accumulations of content; they are also designs and forms. They invite our personal experiences with them, and their appearances (in both senses) constitute cultural occasions. Sure, there is usually a commercial strategy behind new printings of titles, and some have no need whatsoever of an updated edition, or fresh cover, or new introduction by this or that luminary. We may reasonably feel some cynicism at these unnecessary, perhaps unearned, reprintings. Yet I often find that an old book comes into fresh focus when its publisher rolls out the promotional red carpet. I admit to being too easily hooked, like a little boy with a bauble, by a redesign of a book with which I am long familiar, and likely even have in my possession already. Visuals aside, I am also a fan of that slightest of subgenres, the literary introduction, and so am glad to find some novelist briefly introducing a venerable or modern classic, or a reflective author presenting a new preface for a second edition. Sometimes, too, there is just experiential curiosity— what will it mean to read this book in that particular edition? What peculiar pleasures of reading will be afforded? Will you take up a book well known to you but now prime for rereading, or one that you should have read or have been meaning to read for too long? Now may be your chance, now that the timely occasion of a new, attractive edition is at hand.

Is it me, or has the past year in the publishing world felt like a particularly rich, varied time for reprintings? Authors such as Muriel Spark, C. P. Snow, and C. S. Lewis have enjoyed multiple-book productions from New Directions and Cambridge University Press. (In Lewis's case, the Canto Classics series has reissued critical works such as Allegory of Love and Studies in Words.) Princeton University Press is in a particularly retrospective mood with its "Princeton Classics" series, with new paperbacks of classic monographs such as Erich Auerbach's Mimesis and Stephen Greenblatt's Hamlet in Purgatory; its Princeton Legacy Library, which makes older titles again available via print on demand; and a reissue of Ernst Robert Curtius's European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages in the Bollingen series, newly introduced by Colin Burrow. Some publishers dedicate themselves to the noble art of obscurity-prevention for worthy titles: see, for example, the NYRB Classics, a wonderfully eclectic collection that recently created a new audience for John Williams' novel Stoner, and Carnegie Mellon's Classic Contemporary Series, with reissues of early books by Aliki Barnstone and Thomas Lynch.

Hayden's rare short elegies with careful, spare wording can feel like epitaphs carved onto an ancient Greek temple.
Classics are often reliable bets—no surprise to see Penguin's deluxe edition of Leaves of Grass, or Liveright's hip design for Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, given new resonance by being paired here with the author's own Confession. Yet what a pleasant surprise to find Melville House's spring release of Letters of James Agee to Father Flye. Sometimes new editions or reprintings intend to provide a bold reorientation or counter-emphasis for an author or work. A new critical edition of the poetry of Baroque English Catholic writer Richard Crashaw (University of Minnesota Press) refashions this "unjustly neglected poet of sacred eroticism and homoeroticism." The cultural moment is ripe for such reappraisal, and the cover broadcasts this new attention. The top half features a garish red cross, while the bottom half is a close-up of a toned male torso: Warholish crucifix to hunky six-pack, all on one cover. And what a different impression readers get from the reissuing of Howard Buten's 1981 novel Burt, which is now strikingly titled, When I Was Five I Killed Myself.

Often these releases coincide with anniversaries, of the author's birth or death dates or a work's first publication. A new edition of James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain, now in the Vintage International series, commemorates the 90th anniversary of Baldwin's birth. Penguin's "Graphic Deluxe Edition" of James Joyce's Dubliners marks one hundred years since that story collection was first published in 1914. (I was keen to read Irish novelist Colum McCann's introduction.) And the centenary of John Berryman's birth will be celebrated with several reissues and new publications this fall.

This brings me to another centenary edition, the Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, published by Liveright in 2013. It may be too much to claim that Hayden is overlooked or a "neglected" master. He was the first African American appointed to the position now known as Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress, and in June, there he was in The New Yorker with a previously unpublished poem, although he died in 1980. Last year's anthology of African American poetry, Angles of Ascent, cannily pays homage to the title of Hayden's "new and selected" collection of 1975, as well as—more fittingly and powerfully—the final lines in Hayden's poem "For a Young Artist." Describing the indignities of the title character in Gabriel García Márquez's story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," the poem soon leaves behind the man's stiff wings flapping clumsily in favor of a sudden grace: "Then— // silken rustling in the air, / the angle of ascent / achieved." The anthology's editor, Charles Henry Rowell, calls the title a tribute to a "master artist who left behind an extraordinary gift in the pantheon of North American poetry" and made "an indelible impact" on following poets.

Hayden shared his birth year with Albert Camus (whose centenary led to a heap of new publications and reprintings). Camus famously died young at 46, killed in a car crash near the French seaside in 1960. Although Hayden died twenty years later, it also feels as if his voice was silenced prematurely, at least when one notices the dates of his poetry books. Everything he wished to preserve appeared in print after 1962, and he referred slightingly to three earlier poetry collections as "apprentice pieces" or "trial flights." These excluded books featured socialist-oriented verses that the poet eventually felt he had outgrown. Hayden's evolving sympathies were influenced by W. H. Auden's similar development in the early 1940s, when both were at the University of Michigan. (Hayden was a graduate student there for the first half of the decade.)

This centenary edition provided an occasion for me to revisit a poet I remember admiring (if I can even call it that, or give myself credit for that) in a high-school English class for which I was unsuited. I regret to say I spent less time reading modern American poetry and more time distracted in the back of the classroom, secretly exchanging with a friend offensive treasures from Truly Tasteless Jokes. Yet I still vividly remember, if I could not yet admire exactly, Hayden's poem "Those Winter Sundays," as well as his striking author's photo in our Adventures in Reading textbook: a black writer wearing very thick-lensed glasses. (Mockery of his near-sightedness was a source of pain in Hayden's boyhood; he remembers this, along with the comfort books gave him, in the poem "Names": "Old Four Eyes fled / to safety in the danger zones / Tom Swift and Kubla Khan traversed.")

Hayden wrote "Those Winter Sundays" in the 1950s, although it did not appear until Ballad of Remembrance was published, in London, in 1962. (Hayden is like Frost in having a "breakout" volume appear first in the UK.) Here it is, a little gem of postwar American poetry, one that has been called a "pure" lyric poem :

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

You know a poem promises greatness when its author can place, by the second word, such emotional weight (heavier for being felt only retrospectively) on an adverb such as "too," most unpromising of words. It turns out to be the first word in belated praise of a father's efforts, spoken with regret by a now older, more aware son. Then there are the hard "k" sounds in that third line, as if those consonants are digging into the father's work-scarred hands. And notice the placement of that verb "made," at the end of line four for emphasis—Hayden uses the effects of enjambment to simulate that morning fire finally catching. A dizzying shift of sympathies stirs this poem throughout: we admire and pity the sacrifices of the unthanked father, yet are taken aback by the second stanza's end, with its fear and "chronic angers," which also gives a second-reading sense of menace to that noticeable, bruise-like description of the "blueback cold" in the previous stanza.

The real culpability, though, finally alights on the speaker, or the younger self that the speaker remembers here, a boy ungrateful and indifferent, as boys can be. The detail of the father polishing the son's shoes for church, well, it should tip the poem over into sentimentality, but instead it adds to the self-indictment: the boy seems most heartless as the father appears most tender. The poem ends remarkably, with the speaker admitting how little he could comprehend a parent's dutiful love, and it linguistically renders that gulf between the boy's incomprehension and the father's nobly quiet, everyday actions ("Sundays too") with the final line's highly Latinate word choice of "austere and lonely offices." That final word conveys, from Cicero's De officiis through the history of the church, a sense of solemn obligation and priestly function.

Autobiography hovers behind "Those Winter Sundays," which Hayden in interviews referred to as an "intensely personal poem" and "an act of expiation." For a long time he couldn't get through a public reading of the poem because of its emotional impact on him. The father is the poet's own foster-father, a laborer, and the family, which took in Hayden at the age of two, faced the financial struggles and marital discord that the poem darkly implies. The church they were bound for on those Sundays was Second Baptist Church. Despite their tensions, Hayden recalls in a short memoir how his father urged his clearly bookish son toward education and a better life. "Boy, you look so much like your mama," he writes in his father's voice, "and a boy that look like his mama the way you do is born for luck."

Rereading a poem often encountered in isolation ("Those Winter Sundays" is all over anthologies), and doing so within a new context—in its original book publication or within a collected edition of ninety poems such as this one, strictly curated by its author—can lead to fresh appreciations. Hayden had a thing for ending poems with a double question. Despite its single question mark, "Those Winter Sundays" effectively does just this by way of repetition; so too, for instance, does "Astronauts": "What do we ask of these men? / What do we ask of ourselves?"

I was also struck by how other Hayden poems drew out or reinforced the concealed violence in "Those Winter Sundays." Arnold Rampersad, a scholar known for his biographies of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison, argues in what is now an afterword to the centenary edition that Hayden's efforts to confront violence, from personal examples to those of national and international history, are central to his concerns as an artist and American. The poem on the page facing "Those Winter Sundays" is the most pertinent example, and is likewise focused on childhood's struggles and injustices. The speaker in "The Whipping" identifies viscerally with a boy being beaten by an old woman, likely his grandmother. It is hard to resist her shading into the enigmatic father in the more famous poem across the page: "And the woman leans muttering against /a tree, exhausted, purged— / avenged in part for lifelong hidings / she has had to bear." That "in part" captures Hayden's delicacy: he understands the burdens and abuse that make the old woman and the father do what they do, but he never approves of a whipping given less for punishment than for a personal rage. There is no approval, just acknowledgment, of those "chronic angers" in a house, probably one shared sadly, where a gruff father still shows so much tenderness, provision, and sacrifice. A few pages later, in a very different key, Hayden again inhabits a scene of rage, this time in the classical hero Perseus' story. "I thirsted to destroy," the hero admits, as he triumphantly lifts the beheaded head of Medusa: "None could have passed me then— / no garland-bearing girl, no priest / or staring boy—and lived." It is a bare concession, in the hero's voice, of heroism's troublingly necessary bloodlust.

Usually, though, Hayden focuses on more modest figures, ones whose resilience earn the poet's admiration or whose hardships elicit his sympathy. A beggar boy in Cuernavaca avoids waiters' blows, laughing as he does so. Later the author recalled the boy as a "toughie" who was bright and clever but had no future. "The Prisoners," a late poem, emerges from a visit to a penitentiary. The writer-outsider senses a collective plea: "Believe us human / like yourselves, who but for Grace …" The ending, for all of its simplicity, may dramatize Hayden's own best hope for a compassionate art: "And I read poems I hoped were true. / It's like you been there, brother, been there, / the scarred young lifer said."

In his brief introduction to the centenary edition, "Remembering Hayden," poet Reginald Dwayne Betts actually remembers his younger, teenage self, much like the speaker of "Those Winter Sundays." He recalls his makeshift anthology of poems, written on prison request forms and kept in a torn folder. It was 1996, and Betts was sixteen and incarcerated, "immature, angry, and lost in a nationalism that wouldn't save me." He praises Hayden's maturity and reticence, as well as his conscious if at times painful turning from the Black Arts and Black Power movements of his times. Allegiance was expected from a poet such as Hayden, and he disappointed many by resisting. He asserted instead his artistic independence, a virtue that Rampersad also emphasizes. Hayden once said he did not wish to be a "spokesman" for anything, though he wrote with passion, sustained for a career, on topics and values dear to him. As Betts bluntly puts it, Hayden would not demean his art for identity politics.

Hayden stages a declaration of independence in "A Ballad of Remembrance." The poem is set in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, and Hayden's pulsing verses capture well the carnival scene's drum beats and delirium: "Quadroon mermaids, Afro angels, black saints / balanced upon the switchblades of that air / and sang." And later: "Love, chimed the saints and the angels and the mermaids" (notice how those unnecessary articles swell and populate the line), and "Hate, shrieked the gun-metal priestess / from her spiked bellcollar curved like a fleur-de-lis." Suddenly, the final two stanzas break the trance, as Mark Van Doren (!), directly addressed and fully named in the penultimate line, sweeps in as a kind of WASPy deus ex machina: "Then you arrived, meditative, ironic, / richly human; and your presence was shore where I rested / released from the hoodoo of that dance, where I spoke / with my true voice again." Some words here have troubled critics: does contrasting Van Doren as "richly human" debase or dehumanize the carnival participants? And what is the speaker "released" from exactly? A disparaged culture? Is there evasion or even self-loathing at work here? Yet Hayden's insistence on gratitude and his certainty about his true voice permit him both elevation and even intimacy where we least expect it ("your presence was shore," not a shore, demotically—no article this time, in this rarefied air between learned friends). He feels content to end this tourde-force of a poem in a most modest fashion, by identifying it with its friendly, grateful function: "a poem of remembrance, a gift, a souvenir for you."

Hayden eventually explained that the origin of the poem was a bracing first visit to New Orleans, where he and Van Doren served as arts ambassadors. An African American from Detroit, Hayden was taken aback by a more virulent racial demarcation and hostility in the South. He recalled Van Doren's and his hard time finding a place for coffee together, and said the carnival imagery, inscribed with dense, still debated symbols, reflected a group known as the Zulus that for him stood for the "accommodation of segregation." Hayden taught at Fisk University in Nashville for decades, and he would refer to the South's more complex and brutal racial realities simply as "it."

Other poems feature uneasily racialized scenes in southern settings, such as "Tour 5," "On Lookout Mountain," and the later poem "Dogwood Trees." The first of these, which refers to a trip roughly along the Natchez Trail, describes a white storekeeper: "Shrill gorgon silence breathes behind / his taut civility / and in the ever-tautening air, / dark for us despite its Indian summer glow." That classical reference ("gorgon silence") is a typical flourish in Hayden's poetry, but his truer talents reside just afterward, in the way the tautness threatens the speaker and his fellow traveler by moving from the antagonistic if polite clerk to the air itself, and how "dark" works on at least three levels: physically it contrasts with the air's glow; tonally it refers to the darkened atmosphere in the store because of a barely latent animosity; and racially, as a word that marks the black visitors, in contrast, too, to the air, the man, and everything else in that place.

The racist hatred in the better known poem "Night, Death, Mississippi" is made more harrowing by remaining just outside the attention of the poem's speaker, an elderly Klansman who can no longer participate in the violence, but is startlingly nostalgic for his younger, good-old days: "Time was. Time was. / White robes like moonlight // In the sweetgum dark." The poem's second and final section is unflinching, in both the close-up and the unapologetic memory of violence: "Then we beat them, he said, / beat them till our arms was tired / and the big old chains / messy and red." We next hear a third voice, that of the mother of the boys just returned from bloodshedding. The poem closes as a particularly chilling version of All in the Family, draped in a menacing, Southern-Gothic tableau.

"Middle Passage" pursues history with references to hymns and The Tempest:

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,
Of his bones New England pews are made,
those are altar lights that were his eyes.
Here Hayden connects the famous "sea change" from Shakespeare's play with enslaved Africans' changing from human beings into things as they approach America. The refrain-like hymn line, "Jesus Saviour Pilot Me / Over Life's Tempestuous Sea," thus becomes sharply ironized, as are the "dark ships" like shuttles "in the rocking loom of history"—"their bright ironical names / like jests of kindness on a murderer's mouth."

Hayden achieves a different, more laureate-like sound, a composition of deep composure and deeply public, in the sonnet "Frederick Douglass":

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
useable as earth; …
Only then will Douglass be properly remembered, not with rhetoric and poems and bronze, "but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives / fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing." (Hayden credited Hopkins for the sonnet's intensified cadence.) These occasions for monumentalizing satisfied him. His rare short elegies with careful, spare wording can feel like epitaphs carved onto an ancient Greek temple, while "Words in the Mourning Time," the title poem of his 1970 collection, formally elegizes recent and ongoing national tragedies: MLK's and Robert Kennedy's assassinations, the war in Vietnam. One senses that his many poems about historical figures—Phillis Wheatley, Nat Turner, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Bessie Smith, John Brown—came to him as inspirations and ended as duties happily fulfilled. "El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz" presents Malcolm X in his different phases, from "He conked his hair and Lindy-hopped, / zoot-suited jiver" to a racist "false dawn of vision," until "He fell upon his face before / Allah the raceless in whose blazing Oneness all / were one. He rose renewed renamed, became / much more than there was time for him to be."

These several examples should make clear Hayden's extensive poetic engagement with history and with African American experience particularly. These interests grew in the late 1930s when, just out of college, he worked for the Federal Writers' Project, researching Michigan's anti-slavery history. Those who emphasize the poet's literary traditionalism, tendencies toward lapidary formality (as in the line, "sunbathers gather on the lambent shore"), or his own admission of "a certain detachment" tend to minimize the range and degree of Hayden's social voice as an African American poet. Yet one can also understand Hayden's bristling at being limited to a single defining position. His 1975 collection Angle of Ascent evokes Sojourner Truth and Crispus Attucks but also Egyptian art and Eskimo songs. And his last collection, American Journal, stands out for its new freshness and even whimsy in considering the nation, its history, and citizenry. The literally alien narrator of the title poem concentrates wittily on its own learning curve: "must be more careful item learn to use ok / their pass word ok." Soon the alien speaker is "curiously drawn" to Americans … "doubt i could exist among them for / long however psychic demands far too severe / much violence much that repels i am attracted / none the less their variousness their ingenuity." The centenary edition barely includes portions of this poem, yet what little is featured is essential for recognizing this poet's ongoing curiosity and experimentation.

Thus it is easy to see why Betts, in his introduction, calls Hayden a model for resistance when he was in prison, where it was "frighteningly easy to become whatever was most convenient." Betts' model found his own model in Yeats, a poet whom Ampersad describes as "saturated in nationalistic lore" yet maintaining an independent vision. Hayden said that he wished to be a black poet the way Yeats was an Irish poet.

Hayden married in 1940, and remained so till his death forty years later. He also accepted his wife's Bah´'í faith, which assumes an explicit presence in poems generally held to be less successful. Bahá'í's universalist outlook proved congenial and enduring to him, though, after signs of initial discontent and skepticism regarding religion. He always felt what he called "God-consciousness," but his Baptist upbringing appears severe in "Electrical Storm": "God's angry with the world again," it begins. "I huddled too, when a boy, / mindful of things they'd told me / God was bound to make me answer for." Similarly, the title figure of "The Rabbi" is described as "dour and pale / in religion's mourner clothes." The second poem reflects how Hayden's Paradise Valley neighborhood in Detroit was more racially and culturally diverse when he lived there. He would recall playing with Jewish, German, Italian, and Polish kids, and "even Southern white[s]."

This Bahá'í commitment also gave meaning to poetry-writing for Hayden. Writing, he declared in one preface, was a "spiritual act, a form of worship" that required no distinction between "religious" and "secular" art. Efforts to master form and technique "are in themselves a kind of prayer." Elsewhere he wrote that he hoped his poetry would "serve God and affirm and honor man," and be a "prayer for understanding and perfection." Elsewhere Hayden's definitions of poetry sound less assured and serene. He calls it a "species of Primal Scream," for instance, or a way of "gazing upon the Medusa without being turned to stone, the poem being his mirror shield." Poems are places, in other words, where dangerous nemeses are contested, and where, despite that, survival remains possible. This sense of poetry's purpose or protection surely informs Hayden's habit of intermingling beauty with horror, as in the following image: "A tawny / butterfly drunkenly circled / then lighted on offal." In "Monet's 'Waterlilies,' " news from Selma and Saigon contrasts with "the serene great picture that I love," while "The Night-Blooming Cereus" (the title poem of his 1972 volume) turns that desert plant into a suitable container for these oppositions: "It repelled as much / as it fascinated me // sometimes—snake, / eyeless bird head," but also "imminence / of bloom."

Maybe Hayden arrived at an ideal middle ground, as far as definitions of poetry go, when he dreamed of future poems displaying forms and techniques he had not yet attempted. He hoped to arrive at "something patterned, wild, and free."

Brett Foster is associate professor of English at Wheaton College. His first book of poetry, The Garbage Eater, was published in 2011 by Northwestern University Press. A second collection, Fall Run Road, was awarded Finishing Line Press's 2011 Open Chapbook Prize, and appeared in 2012. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Anglican Theological Review, The New Criterion, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, and Yale Review.

Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Books & Culture magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Books & Culture.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
keithhamblen | Dec 1, 2014 |
:A curriculum - related book for the supplementary use in High School literature courses. ... , an anthology of outstanding work by Negro poets. These poems are presented in special collection to help convey to students the nature and scope of an area of American literary landscape that has been shaped by unique social, political, and moral forces."
 
Markeret
orchard52 | Feb 6, 2016 |

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