blackbirdonline journalSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Quietest Voice in the Room: On Robert Hayden

Literary scrapes tend to be pointless—and often downright absurd. A recent Instagram war between poets Ocean Vuong and Matthew Zapruder garnered a good deal of attention in the land of po-biz, but I can’t really figure out what their disagreement was about. Then there was the famous quasi-fistfight between Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost that took place in Key West in 1940, prompted by Stevens belittling Frost as a poet who just wrote about “things.”1 Frost retorted that Stevens just wrote about “bric-a-brac,” whereupon Stevens—who could be a mean drunk—tried to land a punch on Frost, who ducked and avoided it. As Peter Campion observes in his Radical Reality: Form and Freedom in Contemporary Poetry, this story may be something of a tall tale. But it fits a pattern: a few years earlier, also in Key West, Stevens tried to punch out Ernest Hemingway, causing Stevens to break his hand. The pair must have looked like two claymation figures in one of the lesser Godzilla movies.

However, I think of one poetry dustup that still is vexing after fifty-three years. It took place at Fisk University—a well-regarded HBCU—at a historic literary festival that served as a kind of coming-out party for the emerging poets of the Black Arts Movement. The adversaries were Amiri Baraka and Robert Hayden. This was 1966, two years before Richard Nixon’s election, of the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations, and Baraka had recently made the transition from being a “Personist” poet of the New York School—a pal of Frank O’Hara and Ed Dorn, among others—to defining himself as poet of the Revolution. Again, this was the ’60s, and the Black Arts poets, for damn good reasons, had had enough of racism, capitalism, and all the other chronic injustices that continue to haunt American culture. And to be a poet of the Revolution, you don’t just want change, you want utter transformation, and you want it Now. Hayden, twenty-one years Baraka’s senior, had been publishing his poetry since 1940, though his readership was miniscule, as was his literary output. (It never got much larger: his Collected Poems is scarcely more than 200 pages long.) He had been teaching at Fisk for a good many years—with a course load of something like six classes a semester, which undoubtedly was another reason why his rate of production was so slow. In all his photographs, he looks like a college professor of the pre-Summer of Love era—dressed in frumpy tweeds and sporting a bow tie, looking as though he walks with a perpetual stoop, and wearing coke-bottle glasses. (His eyesight was always poor.) Sitting on a panel with the likes of poets such as Melvin Tolson and Margaret Walker, before an audience that included Baraka and a room of what in those days were called “protest poets,” Hayden declared he was a poet first and African American second. In an interview, Hayden would further elaborate on this remark, saying that he was a black poet in the same way that William Butler Yeats—the writer he most revered—was an Irish poet.2 During the polarizing decade of the 1960s, when everyone seemed given to fighting words, these seemingly innocuous remarks were seen as fighting words too—and of the decidedly wrong kind. Compare Hayden’s self-characterization to a statement made in a widely circulated manifesto from the time, written by activist Maulana Karenga, which declared, “All art must reflect and support the Black Revolution . . . Any art that does not discuss and contribute to the revolution is invalid.”3 Coverage of the Fisk conference in the African American press—and there was a surprisingly large amount of it—tended to paint Hayden as a reactionary and an Uncle Tom, and that characterization stuck. It pained the diffident and retiring Hayden to be dismissed in this way, not least because his small body of work is a plea for racial justice that is just as impassioned as that of Baraka’s much larger and much more strident oeuvre. It’s only in the recent past that Hayden’s centrality in twentieth century American poetry has been properly recognized, something that Baraka viewed with alarm. In a 2013 hatchet-job review of Charles Rowell’s excellent anthology, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, published in Poetry, Baraka gets very riled up by the fact that the title of the volume is borrowed from lines of a poem by Hayden. He once again brings up the Fisk Conference, by then forty-seven years in the past, mainly for the purpose of dissing Hayden all over again. He implicitly links Hayden to all the sins that he thinks the anthology represents, which are, in no particular order, the slighting of the poets of the Black Arts movement, MFA programs, Yusef Komunyakaa, and the presidency of Barack Obama. He begins the review by saying “this is a bizarre collection.”4 It’s not bizarre in my opinion, but it is bizarre to read this sort of screed from a poet who himself appears in the volume, and who is represented—rightfully—by a pretty hefty selection of poems.

Baraka’s particular genius as a poet was his ability to always be the loudest voice in the room. His poems crackle, sizzle, snarl, and declaim. They narrow in on their targets with a dizzying glee, often justly, but sometimes unjustly. (It’s unfortunate that the poem Baraka is probably best remembered for is one of the latter—the 9-11-inspired “Somebody Blew Up America,” with its blather of nutty conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism.) Hayden, in contrast to Baraka, always seems to be the quietest voice in the room. In interviews and in his poems, he comes across as diffident but never apologetic, thoughtful but witty, and always grateful for the opportunity to express his debt to the poets who inspired him, most notably Yeats, Countee Cullen, and his teacher at the University of Michigan, W.H. Auden. The arc of his aesthetic development seems almost to be an inversion of Baraka’s. He began as an activist poet and developed into one of lyric subtlety. Heart-Shape in the Dust, his debut collection, published in 1940, is steeped in the Marxism and Proletarianism that were so fashionable in the 1930s, but shortly after the book’s publication he chucked those concerns definitively and never allowed that first book to be reprinted. He married in 1940, and his wife was a member of the Bahá’í Faith, to which Hayden also soon converted. I know it’s reductive to make this analogy, but the Bahá’ís are to Islam in somewhat the way that the Quakers are to traditional Christianity. Both faiths abjure all forms of violence; both stress the unity of all religious creeds and the essential oneness of humanity. Hayden took his faith and its message of nonviolence quite seriously, as evidenced by poems such as “Bahá’u’lláh in the Garden of Ridwan.”

But here’s something I find especially striking about Hayden’s poetry: his pacifism never underestimates the terrible power and consequences of violence. Baraka often calls for violence in his poetry. Hayden never does, but he is positively obsessed with the subject. This obsession grew out of Hayden’s personal circumstances. Like Elizabeth Bishop, whose slim volume of Collected Poems is scarcely longer than Hayden’s, he was an orphan: his birth parents abandoned him in infancy and put him in the care of some willing neighbors, who raised him as their own yet never formally adopted him. Unlike Bishop’s family, the Haydens were dirt-poor, and the Detroit neighborhood of Paradise Valley, where Hayden spent his childhood, is a place his poems remember as vibrant but impoverished. The man the poet thought to be his father seemed to cope with his economic insecurity by turning to Christian fundamentalism. He was rigid and physically abusive. All this is hinted at in “Those Winter Sundays,” Hayden’s most famous poem—an attempt to wrest forgiveness toward his putative father, who raised the poet to fear what Hayden calls “the chronic angers of that house.” Orphanhood and chronic anger: these factors combined to create in Hayden a profound sense of outsiderhood—a man from a marginalized culture whose position in that culture fosters an even greater sense of marginalization. Yet sometimes outsider status can be a boon for a poet. Bishop used her position as an outsider as the means to view her world with an acuity and a wisdom that few insiders can possess. It was that way with Hayden as well.

I want to examine a handful of Hayden poems that are informed by his quietly insistent voice of outsiderhood, a voice that is haunted by our inhumanity but refuses to entertain the notion that our brutality to one another can ever prevail. In focusing on these poems, I must leave out of the discussion poems I revere but would like to list here. There’s “Middle Passage,” Hayden’s first great poem, a treatment of the Amistad slave rebellion that draws upon documentary elements and Modernist collage-making. There’s “Homage to the Empress of the Blues,” his superb celebration of Bessie Smith. There’s “Runagate Runagate,” another documentary/collage poem written to honor runaway slaves. There’s his near-perfect sonnet to Frederick Douglas. And, of course, there’s “Those Winter Sundays,” whose ending—“What did I know, what did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices?”—is perhaps the most plaintive and astonished rhetorical question in all of American poetry.

Let me start with “The Whipping,” the poem that appears immediately before “Those Winter Sundays” in Hayden’s Collected Poems. The two pieces form a kind of thematic diptych. But in “The Whipping” the chronic angers of Hayden’s home are explicitly recalled. Here are the opening stanzas:

The old woman across the way
is whipping the boy again
and shouting to the neighborhood
her goodness and his wrongs.

Wildly he crashes through elephant ears,
pleads in dusty zinnias,
while she in spite of her crippling fat
pursues and corners him.

She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling
boy till the stick breaks
in her hand. His tears are rainy weather
to woundlike memories:5

This passage is a good representation of Hayden’s mature style—limpid and straightforward at one moment, refined and sonorous in the next. The tone of the opening stanza is matter-of-fact, and the beating is clearly an everyday occurrence. We’re given the impression that the speaker could be a Paradise Valley neighbor, nonplussed and watching from the window of his house down the street. This quality of detachment is amplified by the opening stanza’s form: the poem may be written in free verse, but the alternation of loose tetrameter with trimeter lines makes us think of ballad stanzas and of the way that ballads tend to unfold, uttered by a speaker who has no role in the action. But by the second stanza, the tone and approach have already begun to shift. Its opening two lines are quite a linguistic tour de force: kinesthetic, awash in chunky long vowels. The elephant ears and zinnias are perfect details—the words themselves are sonically rich, and in mentioning the flowers, Hayden pushes the narrative forward. The beating of the boy will now be more severe: after all, he’s messed up Grandma’s immaculately tended garden. There’s something cartoonish about the first two stanzas, but there’s nothing of the sort in stanza three. The propulsive iambs of the stanza’s first line underscore the woman’s brutality, as does the onomatopoeic spondee of “stick breaks” in line two. Then there’s the stanza’s brilliant and horrifying closing sentence, with its finely wrought but visceral imagery. Had John Donne been called upon to fashion a metaphor for PTSD, it probably would have resembled what Hayden’s done here.

Now comes yet another change in point of view, a jarring one, but we should have seen it coming. Here’s the poem’s closing:

My head gripped in bony vise
of knees, the writhing struggle
to wrench free, the blows, the fear
worse than blows that hateful

Words could bring, the face that I
no longer knew or loved . . . .
Well, it is over now, it is over,
and the boy sobs in his room,

And the woman leans muttering against
a tree, exhausted, purged—
avenged in part for lifelong hidings
she has had to bear.

Consider the poem’s big reveal—or perhaps it’s not such a big one: we now understand that the boy in the poem is in fact the author, who is not so much recalling this event as reliving a trauma that can’t be shaken, no matter how artfully it is framed. The descriptions of the boy-author-Hayden (the labels are interchangeable by this point in the poem) as he tries to protect himself from the blows are harrowing. “My head gripped in bony vise / of knees” is particularly unsettling. Let’s remember, too, that the woman has already broken her stick over the child; she’s probably now using her fists. Both the child and the woman are wholly consumed by that self-annihilating condition that Simone Weil, in her famous essay on the violence of The Iliad, referred to as “force.” “To define force,” she writes, “it is that X that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing.”6 And in situations where violence so prevails, Weil insists, you devolve into a thing regardless of whether you are a perpetrator or a victim. After many years of reading these stanzas, I still find them uncommonly distressing, not least because the aftermath of the whipping so simply, but memorably, reminds us that violence begets bewildering legacies. The woman has only stopped whipping the child when she is too exhausted to go on doing so. Her only means of attempting to avenge her own “lifelong hidings”—note the grim pun—is to carry on with the whippings. And, of course, there’s the implication that the boy will inherit this behavior. The closing of the poem enacts, through specifics rather than loftiness, his teacher Auden’s lines from “September 1, 1939”: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”


In Hayden’s aesthetic—or should I call it his cosmology?—the will to violence is a generational legacy, a highly ritualized tradition, and a trait that is horrifyingly addictive. Taste it a few times and you’re hooked. In a dramatic monologue spoken by the mythical Perseus after slaying Medusa, Hayden’s Perseus becomes a kind of monster himself. But whereas Medusa’s story was a ghastly instance of blame-the-victim—according to Ovid she was given her mane of viper hair as a punishment by Athena after Poseidon raped Medusa while she was worshipping in the goddess’s temple, thereby defiling it—Hayden’s Perseus simply revels in his newfound toy of the Gorgon’s head. He’s like some MAGA-addled sixteen-year-old who has posted Facebook pictures of himself with a newly purchased AR-15. Listen to him crow:

Yet even as I lifted up the head
and started from that place
of gazing silences and terrored stone,
I thirsted to destroy.
None could have passed me then—
no garland-bearing girl, no priest
or staring boy—and lived.7

Nowhere in Hayden’s work is that addictive “thirst to destroy” better depicted than in “Night, Death, Mississippi.” It’s a masterly narrative, possessing the scope and complexity of a memorable (and terrifying) feature-length film. Yet the poem is only forty-one lines long. Let’s look at the first of its two sections:

A quavering cry. Screech-owl?
Or one of them?
The old man in his reek
and gauntness laughs—

One of them, I bet—
and turns out the kitchen lamp,
limping to the porch to listen
in the windowless night.

Be there with Boy and the rest
if I was well again.
Time was. Time was.
White robes like moonlight

In the sweetgum dark.
Unbucked that one then
and him squealing bloody Jesus
as we cut it off.

Time was. A cry?
A cry all right.
He hawks and spits,
fevered as by groinfire.

Have us a bottle,
Boy and me—
he’s earned him a bottle—
when he gets home.8

It is fitting for Hayden to begin with that screech owl. If you call up a YouTube clip of that bird’s cry, you’ll understand how troubling it is and how similar it can be to a human cry of acute distress. Furthermore, in many cultures, screech owls are portents of death: the Mayans called them “moan birds.” Of course, the cry the old man hears is surely the wail of someone being mutilated. And this is music to the old man’s ears; he goes out on the porch to better savor the sound, for the man can now only vicariously experience the rite of murdering a black man. Hayden is careful to underscore that this is a rite—systematic, performed in Klansman’s robes (like most secret societies, the Klan has always had a penchant for ritual and mumbo jumbo), and ending, in a perversion of the Christian communion service, with the promise of a swig from a bottle, presumably of moonshine. As in Greek tragedy, the violence Hayden evokes takes place offstage—in the woods beyond, and in the old man’s reverie of his own days in those white robes. But it is no less disturbing for that. The abrupt shifts from first person to third person narration further contribute to the section’s jarring effect. Most disquieting of all is the way Hayden evokes the old man’s regret at being too frail to still revel in his blood sport, although he is grimly consoled by his son or grandson’s capacity to carry this murderous tradition forward.

As section two of the poem opens, the newly initiated offspring has returned to relate his account of the killings. He seems astonished by his own rapaciousness:

Then we beat them, he said,
beat them till our arms was tired
and the big old chains
messy and red.

O Jesus burning on the lily cross

Christ, it was better
than hunting bear
which don’t know why
you want him dead.

O night, rawhead and bloodybones night

You kids fetch Paw
some water now so’s he
can wash that blood
off him, she said.

O night betrayed by darkness not its own

I have read and taught this poem many times over the years, and each time I do, I find this second section almost unbearable. The murderers don’t simply kill, they labor at their mission in order to arrive at a perverse catharsis. The killers humanize their victims only so far as to allow that their prey, unlike the bears in the third stanza, know why they are being beaten to death. In addition, the speech of the woman, the wife or mother of the returning slayer, offers us a chilling summation of Hayden’s ritualization trope—the entire family, down to the children, stands drenched in blood. But these actions are counterpointed by the three italicized lines that give the poem its august brilliance. We don’t know who they are uttered by. Janice N. Harrington, in an essay on the poem, ventures this interpretation, which seems to me a credible one: “Hayden interjects his voice or the voice of an African-American chorus not only to sing, but also to pass judgment. The lyrical passion of the voices makes their argument against racial violence.”9 The elevated and somber diction of the lines also function as a kind of requiem mass for the victims, a fully embodied requiem that is scarcely longer than a haiku. The detail of “Jesus burning on the lily cross” is neither borrowed from scripture nor taken from the lyrics of a spiritual, but it may as well have been. The poem’s final line beckons to the tradition in mystical poetry that regards the dead of night as a catalyst for spiritual rebirth. “What emanations, / Quick vibrations, / And bright stirs are there!” exclaims the Metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan in a poem entitled “Midnight.” And let’s remember Roethke’s lines, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” The killers are not simply criminals who strike by night; they have desecrated the affirming power of darkness, transformed it into something Hayden can only describe through neologisms: “rawhead and bloodybones night.” Hayden asks that the nocturnal be returned to its rightful place as a site of spiritual reckoning rather than of murder. Although Hayden’s plea remains unfulfilled, it is a quietly majestic closure to one of the most trenchant examinations of racial violence in all of contemporary poetry.

The final Hayden poem I would like to discuss is also a manifestation of “chronic angers” and outsiderhood, although in this case it is the latter that predominates. It’s a poem altogether different from anything else in Hayden’s output and is entitled “[American Journal].” It’s also a kind of valedictory effort, a longer poem that happens to close Hayden’s Collected Poems, and quite an eccentric summation of his prevailing concerns. The poem is spoken by a shape-shifting extraterrestrial whose mission is to observe American culture. He’s a strange amalgamation of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and Alexis De Tocqueville—and just as smugly self-satisfied as either was. The opening stanzas give us a good sense of the speaker’s stance:

here among them the americans this baffling
multi people extremes and variegations their
noise restlessness their almost frightening
energy how best describe these aliens in my
reports to The Counselors

disguise myself in order to study them unobserved
adapting their varied pigmentations white black
red brown yellow the imprecise and strangering
distinctions by which they live by which they
justify their cruelties to one another

charming savages enlightened primitives brash
new comers lately sprung up in our galaxy how
describe them do they indeed know what or who
they are do not seem to yet no other beings
in the universe make more extravagant claims
for their importance and identity10

The narrator’s skill at othering is rather staggering, combining outdated (and racist) anthropological lingo, condescension—consider the snideness of “the imprecise and strangering / distinctions by which they live”—and the ironically self-important characterization of the Americans’ own self-importance. As someone accustomed to being routinely victimized by such behavior, Hayden acutely understood the almost Pavolvian sense of entitlement that often drives it. And yet, as Yusef Komunyakaa notes in a canny essay on this poem, the alien’s snarkiness serves a purpose—it’s the only means he has to characterize our culture’s manifold incongruities and inequalities. “The narrator, however,” says Komunyakaa, “employs the oxymorons in a satirical, almost cynical way, to articulate the supreme contradiction of our culture, the American Dream.”11 As the alien tallies up our failings, be they cultural, ecological, or racial, the oxymorons Komunyakaa mentions abound. We are not just “charming savages” and “enlightened primitives,” we are also “wastefully ingenious,” “disturbing[ly] sensuous” and champions of “vaunted liberty.” There’s another element that acts as a counterbalance to the narrator’s sense of superiority, which is the poem’s quirky use of free verse. Hayden was no strict formalist by any means, but many of his lyrics are loosely metrical. Here, however, Hayden shapes his lines in a way that seems to be just short of bonkers. But the form reminds us that the poem is comprised of jottings in an alien civil servant’s journal, and like so many bureaucrats, the poem’s speaker increasingly grows rattled when his certainties are challenged. This begins to happen in the poem’s turning point, and it’s a brilliant little vignette:

something they call the american dream sure
we still believe in it i guess an earth man
in the tavern said irregardless of the some
times night mare facts we always try to double
talk our way around and its okay the dreams
okay and means whats good could be a damn sight
better means every body in the good old u s a
should have the chance to get ahead or at least
should have three squares a day as for myself
i do okay not crying hunger with a loaf of
bread tucked under my arm you understand i
fear one does not clearly follow i replied
notice you got a funny accent pal like where
you from he asked far from here i mumbled
he stared hard i left

must be more careful item learn to use okay
their pass word okay

The scene begins wistfully enough. It’s a set-up for a joke, really—“Alien walks into a bar. . . . ” But how confusing the speech by the man on the next barstool must be for the speaker. At one moment, he’s clumsily but earnestly defining the American Dream, but in the next, he’s militantly xenophobic. The speaker is clearly distressed by this: how can this man sound so reasonable and then immediately turn into the kind of right-winger lush who trash-talks migrants, BLM, and Antifa? Two insights come to the speaker from this event. First, he learns the significance of that American “pass word” okay, a word of slippery durability that can perfectly express ambivalence. Second, he has himself become a victim of othering—his discomfort at the drinker’s remarks has ratcheted up to fear.

In the pages of the poem that follow, our alien continues his research, donning a variety of disguises—“in / bankers grey afro and dashiki long hair and jeans / hard hat yarmulke mini skirt”—watching police beat demonstrators, and worrying that his reports to his superiors will disappoint them because he cannot reconcile how Americans’ “knowledge / power and inventiveness” can coexist with the fact that they are “raw / crude neophytes.” He can no longer affect the stance of objectivity. Yet in the poem’s closing stanzas, he has learned to accept, and even to some degree admire, American culture’s innate messiness and paradoxes. You might even say that he has resigned from his role as anthropologist and become a poet, for the closing of the poem enacts everything Keats so famously said—in his negative capability letter—about poetic composition. Our spaceman has learned to be, as Keats would have it, “capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” Even within the context of the challenging formal constraints Hayden has given himself in the poem—remember, these are meant to be antipoetic jottings and observations—the closing of the poem represents Hayden at his eloquent and lyrical best:

america as much a problem in metaphysics as
it is a nation earthly entity an iota in our
galaxy an organism that changes even as i
examine it fact and fantasy never twice the
same so many variables

exert greater caution twice have aroused
suspicion returned to the ship until rumors
of humanoids from outer space so their scoff
ing media voices termed us had been laughed
away my crew and i laughed too of course

confess i am curiously drawn unmentionable to
the 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
their elan vital and that some thing essence
quiddity i cannot penetrate or name


I finished these words on January 6, 2022. Exactly a year before, I was nearly at the end of the winter residency of Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’ve taught for many years. My colleague Betsy Sholl and I gave a short break to the students in our poetry workshop. Before we reconvened, I saw the news alert on my phone about the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Then I saw the first clips of an endless barrage of truly horrific video coverage. The mobs of Trumpists, QAnoners, Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, and white supremacists seethed and writhed through the Capitol hallways like that scene in Paradise Lost where Satan and his minions all turn into vipers. We continued with our workshop, but in that ten-minute break, we had all seen the same footage, and we were all quite shaken. The rioters would have murdered the speaker of the house had they cornered her. They would have murdered Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Adam Schiff if they had cornered them. They would have murdered my two senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, had they cornered them, as well as my congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger. They would even have been willing to kill that feckless Trump toady, Mike Pence. All these figures and many more escaped that fate by only a handful of minutes. Later that night, I’d had enough of the news. If you believe in the mysterious powers of poetry to offer consolation during times of personal and public crisis, this was the sort of day where you find yourself scanning your bookshelves. I remember how, on the evening after 9-11, and on many days after, I read Zbigniew Herbert’s astonishing poem, “Five Men,” in which, after Herbert’s hair-raising description of partisans executed by the Nazis, he tells us that we must still, in deadly earnestness, “offer to the betrayed world / a rose.” I remember how Adrienne Rich’s “An Atlas of the Difficult World” helped to remind me of the possibilities of hope and resistance in the benighted days following Donald Trump’s election. Yet on January 6, I did not know where to find that hope: after all, democracy had almost died on that day; this changed everything and seemed to change it utterly. How could someone put faith in a United States that seemed so perilously close to being controlled by that band of killers who haunt the lines of “Night, Death, Mississippi”? How could someone find the means to continue, if only tentatively and provisionally, to believe in America’s promise after so much evil had been done, not just on January 6, but for hundreds of years beforehand? It was then, after scanning my bookshelf with something like desperation, I found the poem that gave me something like an answer. That poem was entitled “[American Journal],” and its author was Robert Hayden.  


1Peter Schjeldahl, “Insurance Man, The Life and Art of Wallace Stevens.”

2A. Poulin, Jr., “An Interview with Robert Hayden,” Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry, Laurence Goldstein
 and Robert Chrisman, eds. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), p. 33.

3Quoted from Brian Conniff, “Answering The Wasteland: Robert Hayden and the Rise of the African-American
 Poetic Sequence,” Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry, p. 279.

4Amiri Baraka, “A Post-Racial Anthology?.”

5Robert Hayden, Collected Poems, Frederick Glaysher, ed. (New York: Liveright, 1985), p. 40.

6Simone Weil, Simone Weil: An Anthology, Sian Miles, ed. (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1986),
 p. 163.

7Hayden, Collected Poems, p. 44.

8Hayden, Collected Poems, p. 15.

9Janice N. Harrington, “On Robert Hayden.”

10Hayden, Collected Poems, p. 192.

11Yusef Komunyakaa, “Journey into ‘[American Journal],’” Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry, p. 333.

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