Monday, April 9, 2018

H is for Langston Hughes: America Singing

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 400 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.


I didn't find Langston Hughes until I was a teacher and in my early twenties. 

I discovered his work alongside my students through verses like "Dreams," "Theme for English B," "Mother to Son," and "I, Too.

My students at the time were mostly Y'upik, and I'm a white woman from Kentucky, but we found that the struggles of race and place in the world spoke to all of us, even though we were years and miles away from the Harlem he knew and wrote in. 

Most of Hughes work is short and to the point and written in very accessible language, a real selling point when introducing poetry to people who don't normally read it. You don't have to untangle what Hughes is trying to say, but it is deeply affecting and will stick with you a long time. 

Just a couple of months ago, I was able to attend a multi-media show at the Carolina Theatre of the Langston Hughes project. The show, Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz,  combined live jazz performance with readings of Hughes's verses, against a backdrop of images of the time period. It reignited my interest in this poet and his work. 

In fact, I have a dream poetry anthology project that stems from Hughes poem, "I, Too." "I, Too" is a response to Walt Whitman's anthem "I Hear America Singing" pointing out the America that Whitman didn't hear singing back in the 1800s. 

I'd love to get other poets to write their own "I, Too" poems, elucidating the other songs Whitman didn't hear that make up our nation now. Maybe someday when I'm rich and famous, that's something I can fund. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I like this poem and your dream sounds interesting, hope you achieve it one day.

    Blog: I Will Never Give you UP