Reflective Essay: Terrance Hayes Visit

This reflective essay in response to the poetry reading you attended with Terrance Hayes is part of your midterm examination. In preparation for the Friday workshop on Week 7 where you will discuss the details of the assignment, please read or re-read:

Your notes regarding Plato’s Republic and the role of the poet in the republic
This biographical statement about Terrance Hayes
Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings”
Toni Morrison’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature
The poems posted on Canvas under Discussions “Poetry Forum”
Description of the Assignment:

Write a reflection where you describe the most relevant details of the evening with Terrance Hayes in such a way that they signal to the reader your understanding of his views on poetry as well as your reaction to his reading in light of the discussions we have had in class. Consider for example the role that the living voice has in the interpretation of poetry: how does your reading of Terrance Hayes’ poetry in silence differ from his public reading? How does that experience compare to our reading together of his “Sonnet” [“We sliced the watermelon into smiles”]. Does that difference matter for understanding the role of poetry in the republic? How does listening and/or reading Hayes’ poetry help us understand Toni Morrison when she writes that the old woman “would not want to leave her young visitors with the impression that language should be forced to stay alive merely to be. The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers” (3).

Your reflection should include the following elements, though not in this particular order:

a. describe your experience of the lecture (the What, Who, When, and How that frame the experience),

b. discuss the significance of the experience of attending the reading in light of the texts we have been studying, the topics and questions relevant to our class, including your response to the Morrison quotation above (So what?),

c. explain the impact it had on your understanding of the work of poetry and any conclusions you draw about the place of poetry, its creation by poets and the reception by its different publics (Now what?).

You are free to experiment with this format giving your reflection the form of an academic reflective essay or any one of the following suggestions:

Choose This Option

* A formal reflective essay. Consult this website for a good description of how to write such an essay:

A letter to a significant recipient (a character from a book, an author we have read, a younger sibling, etc. In any case make sure it is clear in the development of the letter why the addressee was chosen as the ideal audience for your reflection)
A Socratic dialogue including yourself, Morrison or Herrera and Hayes in the role of Socrates
After having described the experience of attending the lecture (sections a & b of the essay), write a manifesto for or against poetry. Manifestos take different forms, from the narrative 1776 US Declaration of Independence to the aphoristic twentieth-century Brazilian “Cannibalist Manifesto” by Oswald de Andrade your own model; together with the descriptive section it should be about 3pp.
Expectations: The main criteria for the reflection essay is the depth of thought and engagement with the different sources—written and performance. However, be mindful that the reflection essay is a formal writing assignment, so please make sure your writing is as polished as you can make it.Writing is a reflection of who you are as a thinker and the respect you show to your own learning process and to your readers.

Writing Includes- Original Title that reflects the claim, double spaced typed in Times New Roman 12 with normal margins.

Additional links:

Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings”


This assignment is based off a poetry reading with terrance Hayes. During the poetry reading he read many poems from his book

sonnets for my past and future assassin.

American Sonnet for Wanda C. (Links to an external site.)

Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnet 95 (Links to an external site.) (about the thighs)

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [“Why are you bugging me you stank minuscule husk” (Links to an external site.)]

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [“I lock you in an American sonnet that is part prison”]

There are videos on youtube with his examples of poetry readings.





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