Hayes Davis

Hayes Davis (Poetry) | Silver Spring, MD

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Hayes Davis’ first volume, Let Our Eyes Linger was published by Poetry Mutual Press. His work has appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, Auburn Avenue, Gargoyle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Delaware Poetry Review, Kinfolks, Fledgling Rag, and several anthologies. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland, where he won an Academy of American Poets Prize; he is a member of Cave Canem’s (CAH-vay CAH-nem) first cohort of fellows, a former Bread Loaf working scholar, and a former Geraldine Miles Poet-Scholar at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He has also attended writers’ retreats at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Manhattanville College, and Soul Mountain. He has appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU, 88.5 in Washington, D.C. and at the Hay Festival Kells in Kells, Ireland. His He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. He teaches high-school English in Washington, DC, and lives in Silver Spring with his wife, poet Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and their children.


Let Our Eyes Linger (Poetry Mutual Press. 2016). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Hayes Davis’s first collection is as much about art as it is about autobiography, and both lessons have been well learned. This is a book that validates a life, just as it reaffirms the quality of the poetry that represents its story.”
—Stanley Plumly

“In this first book of poems, Hayes Davis bravely reveals love, fatherhood, and loss, truths that stand both on and off the page. As each moment renders its dappled wisdom, the reader suddenly understands: We need such truth—such vulnerability— in the word.”
—Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Hayes Davis’ debut collection is a complex pattern of experience that builds, poem by poem, into a network of insights binding many identities: son, grandson, life-partner, father, teacher, and most of all, poet. Poems that dramatize the contingencies of family; of its direct influence on the kinds of language we speak, and think and feel with; poems that draw honestly the flight of eros from the domestic scene, as well as the endurance of love & devotion; of small losses that ring through time with rich tones; of secret alienations and internal distances—such poems by Hayes Davis are stirring in their common but difficult recognitions and sensitive portrayals.”
—Joshua Weiner

In his masterful first book, Hayes Davis examines the black family in the 21st century, especially the everyday triumphs and limitations of a black man’s love. Davis’ poems invite comparisons with Robert Hayden and Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems of 20th century family life. He uses enormous formal skill to anchor the poems, but it is the great heart at the center that wins us. After Hurricane Katrina, Davis watches a newscast and sees a so-called “looter” running from a store, not with a TV under his arm, but with Huggies and a milk carton. Receiving news of his son’s questionable behavior from his Pre-K teacher, Davis thinks about the black boys in the high school where he teaches: “(T)hese schools chew these boys, spit some defeated, /. . . two what-could-have-beens for every confident stride/across the stage.” What can a black father say? “Let Our Eyes Linger” is Davis’ eloquent answer. He advises dignity, humor, and compassion in this profound tribute to a family’s love.
—Toi Derricotte

In Let Our Eyes Linger, Hayes Davis fashions his poems out of the vulnerability and strength that comes from loving and being loved. These poems explore Hayden’s austere and lonely offices. Part homage to his wife and children, part homage to his father, all a testament to how the stories we tell ourselves to get through the day can become the poetry that speaks to more than our own existence. Davis writes that is father “knew confidence as a vested commodity,/ its installation as vital as anything fathers give sons. ” These poems show that the poet understands that love is just as vested and just as crucial.
—Reginald Dwayne Betts

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