Robert Hayden (Jay Semple)


Rackham Amphitheatre – Fourth Floor. The Rackham Graduate School. The University of Michigan. 10:00AM – 5:00PM. 915 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.

The Department of English at the University of Michigan has announced plans for a one-day conference on November 1, 2013 in honor of Robert Hayden, the distinguished poet and educator who received an M.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1944 and returned to teach at the university in 1970 as Professor of English until his death in 1980.

Hayden has emerged as a major figure in American literary history. He is the leader, along with Gwendolyn Brooks, of the generation of African American poets that emerged in the 1940s to achieve widespread critical attention and a massive presence in anthologies and textbooks. He served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (the position now known as Poet Laureate of the United States) from 1976-1978. The U.S. Post Office issued a postage stamp in 2012 to honor his achievement.

The keynote address of the conference, to be held in the Rackham Amphitheater, will be delivered by Harryette Mullen, Professor of English and Creative Writing at UCLA, a Guggenheim Fellow (among other honors), and a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her volume of essays and interviews, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, appeared in 2012.

Professor Mullen will be introduced by A. Van Jordan of the U-M faculty. A panel discussion in early afternoon will include Mullen, Linda Gregerson (of the U-M faculty), Lawrence Joseph, a Detroit native and the preeminent Arab-American poet of our time, and Frederick Glaysher, editor of Hayden’s Collected Poems and Collected Prose. Robert Hayden is a character in Glaysher’s recently published epic poem, The Parliament of Poets. Laurence Goldstein, Professor of English and co-editor (with Robert Chrisman) of Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2001), will serve as panel moderator.

In late afternoon, MFA students will read from and speak about Hayden’s poems, along with other participants in the conference.


10 a.m. Keynote address by Harryette Mullen
12-1:30 p.m. Lunch at various restaurants around campus
1:30-3:00 p.m. Panel discussion
3:00-5:00 p.m. Readings and remarks by audience members

After presenting some reflections on Hayden and his poetry on the panel, during the late afternoon, I’ll be reading a passage from my epic poem, The Parliament of Poems, from the Persona’s flight to the moon, with his guide, the poet Robert Hayden. Hope you can make it. The day promises to be a worthy tribute to a life well lived for the art of poetry. Please help spread the word far and wide.

UPDATE 9-22-2013: I attended and enjoyed a poetry reading yesterday, by Herbert Woodward Martin, at Wayne State University in Detroit. He’s of course the famous interpreter of Paul Laurence Dunbar. He gave a powerful reading of Hayden’s poem “Frederick Douglass,” among others… See the Calendar for other Centennial events honoring Hayden and Dudley Randall. Please help letting other people know about them by Sharing… Robert Hayden and Dudley Randall Centennial Calendar

Frederick Glaysher

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