Lighthead Themes & Motifs

Terrance Hayes
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History as Voice

Hayes incorporates a plethora of historical figures and events into his poems in order to open a dialogue with the past and acknowledge both his cultural and artistic predecessors’ influences on his own reality.

One such way that Hayes engages with the voices of the past is by incorporating the words of other poets into his own works. For example, in the poems “The Golden Shovel” and “Last Train to Africa” he takes the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks and Elizabeth Alexander, respectively, and chooses his end words in such a way that he reconstructs their entire poems within his own. As two prominent African American poets, Hayes pays homage to them in doing so by acknowledging their influence on his own work. Additionally, he quotes poet James Dickey in “The Shepherd,” referencing the themes of repression in Dickey’s work in a way that...

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This section contains 2,838 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Lighthead Study Guide
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