Robert Hayden: Success from Controversial Creativity Essay

Robert Hayden: Success from Controversial Creativity Essay

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“Art is not an escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a way of confronting life” (Berry, Wendell). These were the judicious words that were once stated by American poet and educator, Robert Hayden. Despite being raised in an unstable home, moving from his family to a foster family, on top of struggling with impaired vision, Hayden found an interest in black history and poetry which would later bring him great recognition and success. And he would do so by utilizing his broad study of black history to “illuminate the American black experience” (Contemporary Authors Online). Writing of historical figures such as Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman, he shed light on his beliefs and went on to make history in the world of poetry.
Robert Earl Hayden was born on August 4th, 1913, with his birth name of Asa Bundy Sheffey. It wasn’t until he later lived with foster parents William and Sue Ellen Hayden, that his name was legally changed. Hayden was raised in a poor neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan known as Paradise Valley. After many years of witnessing both physical and verbal confrontations amongst his foster parents, he suffered from depression, and utilized poetry as an escape. In 1932, Hayden graduated from high school and attended Detroit City College, which would later become known as Wayne State University. At the age of 27, he published his first book of poems, Heart-Shape in the Dust, and then attended the University of Michigan. There, he was taken under the wing of Anglo-American poet Wystan Hugh Auden, who soon became a huge influence in Hayden’s writing. He admired a variety of poets, Edna St. Vincent, Carl Sandburg, and Langston Hughes just to name a few, and developed an interest in African-American his...


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...ntrism that is common in contemporary literature written by blacks” (Mann, James).



Works Cited

Berry, Wendell. "The Real Work." The Writer's Almanac. N.p., 4 Aug. 2012. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
"Robert E(arl) Hayden." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Mann, James. "Robert E(arl) Hayden." American Poets Since World War II. Ed. Donald J. Greiner. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 5. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Johnson, Jeannine. "An overview of “Those Winter Sundays”." Poetry for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Gallagher, Ann M. "Hayden's 'Those Winter Sundays.' (Robert Hayden)." The Explicator 51.4 (1993): 245+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
"Robert Hayden." Poets.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

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