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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Robert Hayden -- Poet

Host(s): A. Poulin, Jr.

Tape order number: VF-27

Visit Date: March 3, 1975

Length: 1 hour

Brief Summary: Hayden talks about being a poor teenager in Detroit trying to write poems like Cullen and Hughes, and about his later shift away from specifically African American themes. He sees a parallel between his life and Yeats's life as an Irish poet; how both worked to not be limited by their heritages. Hayden uses folk motifs drawn from his own experiences, but seeks inspiration from other sources as well. Hayden bemoans the fact that African American poetry is often treated as sociological writing instead of as literature, and notes a continuation of the "literary ghetto" that African American writing has long been consigned to.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • "Words in the Morningtime"
  • "Full Moon"
  • Selected Poems How I Write Kaleidoscope

Work(s) Read:

  • "A Ballad of Remembrance"
  • "Those winter Sundays"
  • "Night Death in Mississippi"
  • "Electrical Storm"
  • "Belsen, Day of Liberation"
  • "Substacea Eternitatus--Under the Aspect of Eternity"
  • "Frederick Douglass"

Writers mentioned:

  • P.M. Dunbar
  • L. Hughes
  • C. Cullen
  • J. Keats
  • W.H. Auden
  • J. Yeats
  • Spender
  • C.J. Lewis
  • G.M. Hopkins
  • H. Crane
  • M. Moore
  • M. Harper
  • J. Wright
  • H. Martin
  • A. walker
  • R. Ellison
  • E. Hemingway
  • F.S. Fitzgerald
  • T. Dreiser
  • C. Van Vechten
  • E. O'Neill
  • O. Paz

So far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as Black poetry, there is no such thing as white poetry; in America, the just American poetry, that's all.

-- Robert Hayden

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