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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

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'A Night of Poetry' with Terrance Hayes - Sewickley Series

Terrance-Hayes-Sewickley-AcademyOn Thursday, February 2, at 7 pm in Gregg Theater, CMU professor and award-winning poet Terrance Hayes will read poems from his old and new published collections as part of the Sewickley Series. He will also present to Sewickley Academy Middle and Senior School students in an assembly during the day and conduct a poetry workshop with Academy and Summerbridge Pittsburgh students in the evening before his open-to-the-public reading.

Below is an excerpt from his collection titled ‘Lighthead,’ which won the 2010 National Book Award.


After I have parked below the spray paint caked in the granite

grooves of the Frederick Douglass Middle School sign,

where men-size children loiter like shadows draped in outsize

denim, jerseys, braids, and boots that mean I am no longer young;

after I have made my way to the New Orleans Parish Jail down the block,

where the black prison guard wearing the same weariness

my prison guard father wears buzzes me in, I follow his pistol and shield

along each corridor trying not to look at the black men

boxed and bunked around me until I reach the tiny classroom

where two dozen black boys are dressed in jumpsuits orange as the carp

I saw in a pond once in Japan, so many fat, snaggletoothed fish

ganged in and lurching for food that a lightweight tourist could have crossed

the water on their backs so long as he had tiny rice balls or bread

to drop into the mouths below his footsteps, which I’m thinking

is how Jesus must have walked on the lake that day, the crackers and crumbs

falling from the folds of his robe, and how maybe it was the one fish

so hungry it leaped up his sleeve that he later miraculously changed

into a narrow loaf of bread, something that could stick to a believer’s ribs,

and don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer too, in the power of food at least,

having seen a footbridge of carp packed gill to gill, packed tighter

than a room of boy prisoners waiting to talk poetry with a young black poet,

packed so close they’d have eaten each other had there been nothing else to eat.

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Topics: Sewickley Series