Literary House: Two-Day “Poetry Extravaganza” Celebrates Poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Terrence Hayes


Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917-2000 – America’s first African American poet laureate

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College will present a two-day Poetry Extravanganza celebrating African-American poets Terrance Hayes and Gwendolyn Brooks on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 1-2 at the Rose O’Neill Literary House

Gwendolyn Brooks was America’s first African American poet laureate, as well as the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. Terrance Hayes has won the National Book Award and a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, among other acclamations for his poetry. Both will be celebrated on Nov. 1-2 at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, in a two-day event to honor the past and the present of poetry in America.

Hayes will read from his work on Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. at the Lit House. The event celebrating Brooks, 100 years after her birth in 1917, will be held Nov. 2 at 4:30, also at the Lit House. Both events are free and open to the public. At the second event, Hayes will also discuss the influence Brooks’ work and legacy has had on his own poetry.

Terrance Hayes, poet and a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award

One of the most compelling voices in American poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of five books of poetry: How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015), longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry; Lighthead (Penguin Books, 2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry; Wind in a Box (Penguin Books, 2006), winner of a Pushcart Prize; Hip Logic (Penguin Books, 2002), winner of the National Poetry Series, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Muscular Music (Carnegie Mellon, 2006), winner of both the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has been a recipient of many other honors and awards, including a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, two Pushcart selections, eight Best American Poetry selections, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Fence, The Kenyon Review, Jubilat, Harvard Review, and Poetry. His poetry has also been featured on PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in 1917. In this, the 100th year since her birth, we celebrate the former poet laureate and the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, for Annie Allen, her second book of poems. She wrote 20 books of poetry, publishing her first, A Street in Bronzeville (Harper & Brothers) in 1945. She also authored a novel, two autobiographies, and books for children. Her musicality, mastery of tone, gift with received forms like sonnets, and insistence on writing about marginalized people make Brooks one of our most important and relevant poets.

Participants are welcome to bring and read a poem inspired by Brooks, or to read one of their favorites of hers. Hayes will also attend and talk about the influence Brooks had on his work as well as how he developed the form “the golden shovel” based on her work.

For more information on this and other English Department and Sophie Kerr events, visit the the English department’s website or view our annual Literary Events Calendar brochure here. For more information, visit the Literary House website.


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