Tag Archives: Robert Hayden

Poetry Month, Robert Hayden, Space Traveler, & Epic Poetry Reading 2017

Poetry Month, Robert Hayden, Space Traveler, & Epic Poetry Reading 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017. 1:00 – 2:30 PM.
Detroit Public Library, Main Branch. 5201 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202. Fine Arts Reading Room, 3rd Floor.

In addition to speaking on Hayden and reading from some of his poems dealing with themes about outer space, Glaysher reads two excerpts from his epic poem The Parliament of Poets, in one of which Hayden is a character, the other set in a village in East Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war, with Sogolon, a character from the Mali epic Sundiata.

“We are one in our struggles toward perfection. And I hope that we shall always be.” —Robert Hayden, Letter to Frederick Glaysher, November 14, 1979

Read a Free Chapter, The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem
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“Like a story around a campfire.” —From the Audience

“A great epic poem of startling originality and universal significance, in every way partaking of the nature of world literature.” —Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

“A remarkable poem by a uniquely inspired poet, taking us out of time into a new and unspoken consciousness…” —Kevin McGrath, Lowell House, South Asian Studies, Harvard University

“Mr. Glaysher has written an epic poem of major importance… Truly a major accomplishment and contribution to American Letters.” —ML Liebler, Department of English, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

“Glaysher is really an epic poet and this is an epic poem! To put this in context, in my view the last complete and true epic poem in the English Language was Paradise Lost written by John Milton in the 17th century… One can hardly congratulate him enough, then, on this achievement, since it has been so long awaited… One fabulous quality of this poem is its clarity and luminous quality. I love the fact that despite the wide ranging topographical and lexical references this poem is easy to understand and follow: it is a poet writing for people, not one trying to be clever, and not one concealing their lack of poetry in obfuscation. Glaysher has written a masterpiece… I strongly recommend Frederick Glaysher’s poem.” —James Sale (UK), The Society of Classical Poets

“And a fine major work it is.” —Arthur McMaster, Department of English, Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina

“Very intrigued by his background. I’m extremely impressed with the quality and depth of the writing. So well written. It’s almost like a stepping stone into all this world lit that people might otherwise never touch.” —R. J. Fox, Kerrytown BookFest, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sept. 11, 2016. https://Youtu.be/YDaPs1dGS4c

“Bravo to the Poet for this toilsome but brilliant endeavour.” —Umme Salma, Transnational Literature, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

A stain-glass window in the Detroit Public Library, with Apollo above Erato.

Frederick Glaysher.
Reading for Poetry Month, April 22, 2017

Frederick Glaysher.
Fine Arts Reading Room


YouTube Playlist – Epic Poetry Readings and Workshop. Copyright (c) 2012-2017 Frederick Glaysher.

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Robert Hayden’s Angle of Ascent

Robert HaydenRobert Hayden’s Angle of Ascent. Presented at Wayne State University, ROBERT HAYDEN/DUDLEY RANDALL CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIUM, April 2, 2014, where I also read on April 3, the canto, from my epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, “The Flight to the Moon of the persona, with his guide, the poet Robert Hayden.”

Emphasizing the continuing influence of Robert Hayden, Phillip M. Richards of Colgate University, educated at Yale University and the University of Chicago, writes, in his 2006 book, Black Heart: The Moral Life of Recent African American Letters, “In the long view of African-American poetry, Hayden’s symbolist poetry has proved more influential than the Black Arts movement…. Hayden, years after his death, remains our most influential black poet, and his followers the most productive and distinguished school of artist intellectuals” (178). Similarly, Charles Henry Rowell, editor of the journal Callaloo, in his book published last year, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, writes, “The title of this anthology . . . pays tribute to Hayden, a master artist who left behind an extraordinary gift in the pantheon of North American poetry.”

I want to emphasize what Charles Henry Rowell is implying by his carefully choosing the words “North American Poetry.” Rowell understands the literary, social, and aesthetic values that Hayden stood for and realized he couldn’t narrow them down. I myself read Robert Hayden’s poetry for years before I became one of Hayden’s students in 1979. While fully recognizing and relishing Hayden’s poetry, then and now, as I believe the foremost engagement with African-American experience in poetry, I’ve always had the sense, too, which Rowell suggests, that Hayden’s poetry speaks to the human experience of all North Americans, with the universal aspirations of the greatest poets, such as a Whitman. As the author of an epic poem in which Robert Hayden is a character, that has been reviewed in Poetry Cornwall in England as “a masterpiece that will stand the test of time,” and reviewed by Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht of Carleton University in Ottawa as “a great epic poem of startling originality and universal significance,” I gratefully acknowledge that I could never have written my epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, without the example of the art and tutelage of Robert Hayden. Today, we honor Robert Hayden’s striving for the universal, his ability to help us see and understand that about ourselves and our nation, our national experience, one of the perennial goals of great art. At a time when the goals and scope of the literary art were becoming smaller and smaller, turning inward on the small experience of the confessional postmodern self, all the cliches of the personal, the deriding of so-called meta-narratives, Robert Hayden unabashedly saw the personal against the backdrop of a wider social canvas, ever increasingly global in his reach, leading to his poem “[American Journal],” the cosmic vision of his persona from an alien civilization, more human than we are, pondering the nature of life in the United States and on the entire planet…..

The full essay, with an additional biographical paragraph, is now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.


Frederick Glaysher

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Robert Hayden – Dudley Randall Centennial Symposium

Robert Hayden / Dudley Randall Centennial Symposium, Wayne State University, April 2-3, 2014. I’ll be talking about Hayden’s “Angle of Ascent” and reading an excerpt from my epic poem in which Hayden’s a character. There’s a more readable PDF at the link, of the screenshot below.

Hope you can make it!

Frederick Glaysher


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Robert Hayden Under a High Window of Angell Hall

Robert Hayden“Robert Hayden Under a High Window of Angell Hall,” by Frederick Glaysher. 

Read at the ROBERT HAYDEN CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE AND POETRY TRIBUTE, The University of Michigan, November 1, 2013. YouTube link at the end. 

“It is hard for a man to find one kindred spirit among thousands of his fellows, and if at last, softened by our prayers, fate grants one, there comes the unexpected day, the unlooked for hour, which snatches him away, leaving an eternal emptiness.” —John Milton’s Elegy for Damon (tr. Anna Beer)

As a young poet I had chosen not to go off to the university after high school, but followed what I thought of as the solitary examples of Robert Frost and E. A. Robinson and other writers. For a few years, living and writing on an old farm in Oakland Township, Michigan, I tried on the singing robes of Whitman and others, eventually moving to Detroit, near Seven Mile and John R, having been born at Deaconess Hospital on East Jefferson Avenue. More than one line of my family tree has roots extending into the neighborhoods near and of Jefferson Chalmers, some back into the 19th Century. One day at the Detroit Public Library, I noticed a placard that a librarian had posted about the poet Robert Hayden. I sought out his books and read and immersed myself in his poetry, deciding, in time, I would transfer to the University of Michigan in hope of studying with him. My dream came true more than I had ever expected, taking three classes with him, one in Recent Poetry, an independent study of Emily Dickinson, and a private tutorial in writing.

As I explain in my essay on Hayden in my book The Grove of the Eumenides, during the poetry class, he was diagnosed with cancer and was understandably devastated by the prognosis. Looking back I think my writing for him a paper on Countee Cullen brought me to his attention, or an office visit, before long in and out of class. His poetry had already worked its way deep into my consciousness. He knew I held him in high esteem and I felt it a duty to let him know it. In time he became not only older poet, master, mentor, but, I believe, mutually heart-felt friend, father, taking me increasingly into his confidence, hiring me as a secretary to help him get his papers somewhat in order, and allowing me entry into the private life of his home and family, often two or three afternoons a week for the last several months of his life. Robert Hayden is not merely a literary, academic subject to me but the pivotal personal relationship of my entire adult life….

Now available in an expanded, more detailed essay twice as long as what was delivered at the University of Michigan.

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.


In my epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, Apollo calls all the poets of the nations, ancient and modern, East and West, to assemble on the moon to consult on the meaning of modernity. On Earth and on the moon, the poets teach a new global, universal vision of life. In a 3-minute excerpt from a 12-minute canto, the Persona begins to recount how he traveled there with his guide, the poet Robert Hayden.

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