As I mentioned several weeks ago, once a month I’ll use a Saturday Seven post to talk about a poet that I like. Emily Dickinson was the poet I talked about in March, and Langston Hughes is my choice for April.
Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, and he also invented an entirely new style of poetry called jazz poetry that has influenced generations of writers and other creative folks.
His writing style was conversational. The poems he wrote often sounded like something friends might say to each other over a cup of coffee or while playing cards.
I also love the fact that he wrote about black, working class people, a portion of the population that was generally ignored altogether by literary circles when he was alive.
Since Mr. Hughes lived until 1967, the copyrights on his poems have not yet expired. I’ll be sharing brief excerpts from them and then linking to a site where you can read the entire poem.
1. From Harlem:
What happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry uplike a raisin in the sun?
My name is Johnson—Madam Alberta K.The Madam stands for business.I’m smart that way.
Well, son, I’ll tell you:Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.It’s had tacks in it,And splinters,
I looked and sawthe man they called the Law.
Oh, I wish that yesterday,Yesterday was today.Yesterday you was here.Today you gone away.
Babies and gin and churchAnd women and SundayAll mixed with dimes andDollars and clean spittoons
I’ve known rivers:I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.