Vital perspectives from leading critics and scholars on one of the most distinguished African American poets of the twentieth century

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Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.


This collection of essays by leading critics and poets charts Robert Hayden’s growing reputation as a major writer of some of the twentieth century’s most important poems on African-American themes, including the famed “Middle Passage” and “Frederick Douglass.” The essays illuminate the themes and techniques that established Hayden as a modernist writer with affinities to T. S. Eliot, Federico Garcia Lorca, and W. B. Yeats, as well as to traditions of African-American writings that include such figures as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.

Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry is the first and only book to collect significant essays on this distinguished poet. Covering sixty years of commentary, book reviews, essays, and Hayden’s own published materials, this volume is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the poet’s vision of experience, artistry, and influence. The book includes forty different works that examine the life and poetry of Hayden, the first African-American to serve as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (the post now called Poet Laureate) and to receive the Grand Prix de la Poesie at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar, Senegal, in 1966.

Laurence Goldstein is Professor of English at the University of Michigan. In addition to his criticism and poetry, Goldstein is widely respected for his work as editor of the Michigan Quarterly Review from 1977–2000. His books include Writing Ann Arbor: A Literary Anthology, The American Poet at the Movies: A Critical History, and the forthcoming Poetry Los Angeles: Reading the Essential Poems of the City.

Robert Chrisman (1937-2013) was a founding editor of The Black Scholar, a poet and a scholar. He was Professor and Chair of the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and also taught at the University of Michigan, Williams College, University of California Berkeley, University of Vermont, and Wayne State University.