honored on a postage stamp by U.S. Postal Service: A commentary
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The U.S. Postal Service honored on a postage stamp the first Afro-American Poet Laureate Robert Hayden. Poet Hayden’s portrait appears in 10 series of special stamps that depicts America’s most important 20th century poets. It is of great interest that he was a Baha’i.
He was born in 1913, raised and attended Detroit City College and finished a master’s degree at the University of Michigan under the mentoring of the famous poet W.H. Auden.
In 1943, poet Hayden became familiar with the Baha’i teachings and was attracted to their focus on racial harmony.
His achievements include as reported in Baha’i World News Service, "He wrote several poems about his Baha'i religious faith," said an article on the US Philatelic website, "which bolstered his belief in the oneness of all humanity and in the spiritual value of the arts."
The U.S. Postal Service in a press statement on the launching of the series of stamps said, "The poems of Robert Hayden reflect his brilliant craftsmanship, his historical conscience, and his gift for storytelling. Many of his works render aspects of the black American experience with unforgettable vividness; others are more personal."
Mr. Hayden was named Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976. This post was renamed Poet Laureate of the United States of America. He made a name in the academe. He taught at Fisk University in Nashville for 23 years and then at the University of Michigan from 1969 until his death in 1980 at age 66.
Anyone can sense and glean that Mr. Hayden had led an accomplished and fulfilled life. He spent part of his life as an advocate through his poems of “the oneness of humanity and in the true spiritual value of the arts.”
He was honored on the collection of stamps on same ground with Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky,, E.E. Cummings, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams.
Indeed, Mr. Hayden is an exemplar and a pride of his race and religious belief that American youth can look upon as an inspiration.