Dear Terrance Hayes,
I always enjoy a poem that has meanings that are somewhat easy to identity while also throwing in some hard to decipher details. Your poem “Barberism” immediately caught my eye on the list of poems for the Dear Poet Project, mostly from the clever wordplay in the title, but there was also something else that I still can’t quite get that drew me in. At first I couldn’t quite understand the part where you discuss how the father-in-law made a vow to not get a haircut following the death of his daughter, due to the fact that he is currently getting one. However after giving it another listen it became evident to me that one line brought everything together. The source of the father-in-law’s sadness wasn’t just because he was growing old and didn’t have much time left. It was that he couldn’t carry out his vow. He knew that someday the hair would go anyway, and he couldn’t bear this so he had it cut to at least be in control of something. He had to be rid of the deep feeling of helplessness that we all feel at some point in our lives. This truly hit home with me because my grandmother currently has Alzheimer’s, and I can only imagine that she also feels this way at most times. She doesn't want to forget but she can’t help it. That was why I enjoyed your poem. As I was getting my own haircut a few days ago I couldn’t help but think about it. I wondered if the barber could really tell what I was thinking. I think that to at least some degree, yes, my barber could tell what I was thinking to some extent based on my expression and the way my hair was being cut.
Smithtown, New York