Common Read author visits campus

common read

The Lion’s Roar / Sara Stanley

The university hosted its 14th writer since 2008, Terrance Hayes, in the Common Read program sponsored by the Writing Center and English department.

Each year, the department discusses which book English 101 and 102 students will read in the upcoming semester. After analyzing the text and writing an analysis, students are given a chance to meet the chosen author.

This year, students were asked to read “Wind in a Box” by Hayes. Publishers Weekly listed “Wind in a Box” in the top hundred books published in 2006. Themes throughout the book include music, culture and identity. Hayes is known for his collection of poetry that challenges readers to view life through another point of view.

“Perspective is not always about saying ‘I, I, I.’ But it is about understanding the way someone else—the person behind the work—is looking at the world. And that is what I sort of want to achieve in my own work,” said Hayes.

Other Hayes’ works include “Lighthead,” which was the winner of the 2010 National Book Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, “Hip Logic” and “Muscular Music.” Hayes is anticipating the release of his new poem collection, “How to Be Drawn,” in 2015.

Besides writing, Hayes is a full time English professor at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. At CMU, Hayes developed Out Poetry, a course that explores the connection between poetry and the public. Continuing to share his love for poetry, Hayes has also held workshops in prisons, high schools and colleges throughout the nation. 

During his appearance on campus, Hayes led different seminars in the Student Union Theater. Students’ visual arts inspired by Hayes were showcased in the lobby prior to the show.

At 9:30 a.m., freshmen students were given a chance to present their own works inspired by Hayes. Jyrus Evans performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Tanya Kramer, an inspiring poet, read original poems titled “Fallen Stars,” “When He Left Me” and “The Ride.” A student essay by Alexandra Williams named “The Raging Truth” was read. 

Ending the program was a dramatic performance of “The Long Shadow of War” by Terrance Hayes featuring Larry Heard as Terrance Hayes, Tiray Dove by Butch Tyler and Eric Green as James L. Hayes.

At 11 p.m., Hayes opened the floor to questions and starting at 2 p.m., Hayes began class visits and discussions.

Hayes ended his appearance at the university with a poetry reading, book signing and a dinner at 7 p.m.