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Poetry History

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Lifespan:August 4, 1913 – February 25, 1980

Born Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan, Robert Hayden was an African American poet whose subject matter was often the black experience. He extensively studied American history and his poems often reflect his deep knowledge of the same. The first poetry collection of Hayden, Heart-Shape in the Dust, was published in 1940, when he was 27 years old. The poetry of Hayden became international renowned in the 1960s. In 1966, he was awarded the Grand Prize for Poetry at the first World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, for his poetry collection Ballad of Remembrance. In 1976, Robert Hayden became the first African American to be appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a role today known as US Poet Laureate. He held this prestigious position for two years till 1978. Hayden authored nine poetry collections during his lifetime. His most famous poem Those Winter Sundays is among the most anthologized American poems of the 20th century.


Those Winter Sundays1962

Middle Passage1945

Frederick Douglass1947

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