The Influence of Race and Southern Culture on the Works of Terrance Hayes
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The South is a region of the United States known for lively bluegrass and jazz music, African American literature, fine cuisine, family unity, a strong prevalence of religion and racial stereotypes. These customs, important to this area, have spurred artists to write about their experiences in the South. Black American poet and educator, Terrance Hayes, has been greatly influenced by the culture of the Southern United States. Terrance Hayes’ works reflect Southern influences and how being a member of the black community in the South has shaped his identity and his perception of the world.
Terrance Hayes tested many avenues before pursuing a career in English. In fact, he “never even considered studying poetry as a child” (Alumnus Profile). Hayes sparked an interest of the English Language in high school, which has transformed into a successful poetry and teaching career. Hayes was born on November 18, 1971 in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Coker College in 1990 on a basketball scholarship to study visual arts and graduated in 1994 with All-American recognition (Casper). Hayes privately wrote poems all throughout high school and finally showed his work to his English professor during his senior year of college, who urged him to apply to a creative writing program. Hayes graduated in 1997 from University of Pitt with a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry, and became a mentor to aspiring African American poets. (Alumnus Profile). Hayes incorporates his African American culture into his poetry in these three select poems: a Japanese styled Pecha Kucha titled, “Arbor for Butch,” a poem regarding race stigmatization titled, “What I am” and a final poem illustrating the power of the Black American voice, “Lighthead’s Guide to the Ga...
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