Terrance Hayes Reading 

Terrance Hayes

Photo by Becky Thurner Braddock; taken from Terrance Hayes’ website

Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor

     Poet Terrance Hayes will be giving a Thornton Endowment reading on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Sydnor Performance Hall. 

     According to the University of Lynchburg website, Terrance Hayes is “a major contemporary American poet, is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow, and the recipient of the National Book Award in 2010 for Lighthead.” 

     Dr. Laura Long, Professor of English, said, “He is full of surprises. He encompasses so much in both what he says and how he says it; he dazzles. His writing is daring and gorgeous yet approachable. His writing is personal and also extends into history, music, visual art, pop culture, myth, and our present hour of deep social pain and conflict.”

     Prior to Hayes’ reading, there will be time for students and other Hornets to get to know Hayes. Dr. Richard Burke, Professor of English and Coordinator of the Thornton Endowment, said, “There will be a Q&A, or a question and answer session, on Wednesday, March 18 at 3 p.m. in Schewel 207. Anybody is welcomed, although I will say those are primarily intended for students. Anybody can come and anybody can ask a question…but they really are meant first and foremost for students.” 

     Dr. Burke explained how Thorton readers are selected. He said, “Members of the English faculty will nominate a writer. They will say, ‘I think it would be great if Terrance Hayes came,’ and then I get a bit of information about that writer, so that they exist as more than a name, and I share that with the faculty to discuss potential writers in a department meeting. And then we decide. Before we decide, I will have found out if they are willing to come and what they will cost. With a really renowned writer like Terrance Hayes, or last year, we had Celeste Ng, these people are very popular and well-known, so I work through their agent for their public talks. But, more often, it is just a matter of working directly with the writer.”

     The Thorton readings generally last approximately an hour, as Dr. Burke noted, “A writer may choose to spend less time reading and more time answering questions because they are very good at answering questions and they can convey a great deal of information to the audience. A perfect example of that would be Celeste Ng, who actually only read for 10 minutes and then spent the rest [of her time] answering questions.”

     The event is free and open to the public. 

     “This guy is a very big deal. He has won a National Book Award for poetry. He was a MacArthur Fellow…he is a really significant American poet so everyone should come out and hear him,” said Dr. Burke. 

     Dr. Long added, “I think many students will connect with his powerful poetry, including students who don’t think they like poetry.”