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Poet Showcase: Langston Hughes

Poet Showcase: Langston Hughes

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Poet Showcase: Langston Hughes

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  1. Poet Showcase: Langston Hughes Langston Hughes, 1943 SorajSeyed Mahmoud

  2. Background - Born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri and passed away May 22, 1967 in New York City • Jazz Poet, columnist and lyricist • Ethnicity: African American, White American and Native American Langston at Lincoln University in 1928

  3. Langston the Teen • Second child of school teacher Carrie Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes • Raised mainly by his grandmother, Mary Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas • Lived again with his mother Carrie in Lincoln, Illinois before moving to Ohio where he attended high school Langston in 1902

  4. Langston the Young Adult • Worked various odd jobs, including working as a crewman aboard the S.S. Malone in 1923 • Hughes returned to the U. S. in 1924 to live in Washington with his mother • Became a personal assistant to historian at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1925 • Quit to become a half-time busboy, continuing his love of poetry and producing his first collection, The Weary Blues The Urban League magazine, Opportunity circa 1923

  5. Langston the Poet • Langston depicted the lives of working-class Afro-Americans as full of struggle and pain, but also joy, laughter, and music • Criticized the falsehoods of prejudices specifically towards the black community • Stressed the importance of qualities like resiliency, courage, and humor in times of stress and loss • Hughes employed folk and jazz rhythms into his poetry

  6. Poems • Mother to Son • Wealth • Cross

  7. Mother to Son Well, son, I'll tell you: Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor— Bare. But all the time I'se been a-climbin' on, And reachin' landin's, And turnin' corners, And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light. So, boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps. 'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. Don't you fall now— For I'se still goin', honey, I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

  8. Analysis • A mother giving life lessons to her son • Central idea is perseverance • Tone is achieved through Langston’s use of emphasis and exaggeration • Imagery is used to describe the metaphor of the “staircase of life”, leading to heaven • No consistent meter, but rhythm matches speech

  9. Become a Fan • Unique style, rhythm and tone • Captures African-American culture and values • Genuinely happy and ‘feel good’kind of guy • Stays positive • Keeps it simple

  10. Sources • • • •