2 Biography Born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri 1 Langston Hughes was born into a remarkable family thatbelieved in the value of education. His father, JamesHughes applied for law school, but was denied admission because of his race. 1 His mother was a school teacher. 6Hughes’ parents separated and thus began his rootless life of poverty and insecurity. With his mother he moved often. He remarked, “[we] always traveled about a great deal, looking for a better job.” 1Although Hughes’ mother successfully confronted those opposed to his attending Harrison (an all white school), Hughes still had to face the racial hatred of his young schoolmates.Hughes lived most of his childhood with his grandmother, Mary Langston. He forever carried with him her dream of racial equality.Hughes died a bachelor. 1Died on May 22,
3 Education Graduated from High School in 1920 Attended Columbia University inHughes graduated fromLincoln University, PA in1929 6
4 His Works/CareerHis career took off after an encounter with the poet Vachel Lindsay.Working as a busboy, Hughes laid a copy of his poems at Lindsay’s plate. Impressed with his works, Lindsay publicized his discovery of the new black poet. 6 “The Busboy Poet”16 books of poetry2 novels7 collections of short stories2 autobiographies9 children books2 picture books for juvenile readers5 Non-fiction books2 Pictorial Histories of African American Life30 Plays2 Opera LibrettosNumerous translations and Scripts forradio, films, and television programs 7
5 Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz Langston Hughes was one of many writers who emerged as a result of the “Harlem Renaissance” in the 1920s.Music was central to the culture of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes said, “I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street...(these songs) had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going.” 2Hughes often recited his poetry with music accompaniment, shifting his intonations or rhythm of the poem in response to the music.6Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for JazzWorried Life Blues The Weary BluesDoor to Door BluesHughes’ poetry is generally written in free verse and contains informal diction or elements of “spoken” language.
6 "We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren't, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too... If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how and we stand on the top of the mountain, free within ourselves." 3“He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.” 5
7 ExplicationMeans to interpret a poem intensely and persistently, examining words carefully, explaining the patterns of imagery, the meaningfulness of rhythms, the suggestiveness and power of the sounds—trying to show how the text works.Consider the following:Theme/PlotMood/ToneFormRhythmMeterRhymeFigures of speech (similes, metaphors..)Hyperbole, understatement, ambiguityImagery and symbolismRepetitionPatterns of Sound 4
8 Works Cited1. Scott, Mark. “Langston Hughes of Kansas.” The Journal of NegroHistory 66.1( ): 1-9.2. “Langston Hughes: The Songs on Seventh Street.” The Academy of American Poets Oct.2006 <3. Hughes, Langston. “Hughes’s ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’ (1926).” ModernAmerican Poetry 28 Oct. 2006<4. “Poetry Explication.” The Writing Center University of North Carolina 27 October 2006<5. “Langston Hughes.” The Academy of American Poets October 2006<6. “Langston Hughes.” Wikipedia 26 Oct Oct <7. “An African American Experience: Langston Hughes Understanding the Man, His Works, and His Legacy.”B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library 30 Oct <