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Langston Hughes

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Langston Hughes was one of the great writers of this movement. Hughes was born in 1902 to Indian, French, and African American decent so he never really felt like he truly belonged to any one culture. His first poems were published when he was a senior in a predominately white high school. During this time he also got the chance to meet some of the greats such as W.E.B. Du Bois. He arrived in New York in 1921 when he was nineteen years old and planned to study at Columbia University but where he really wanted to be was in Harlem.

Langston Hughes is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing. His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. 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.
picture of Langston Hughes

 

"Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
List of Langston Hughes works The Weary Blues book by Langston Hughes

 

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Questions? contact Larissa erickslr@uwec.edu
page last updated March 18, 2005