The Harlem Of Langston Hughes
17 NOV 15
The Harlem of Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes was a massive role model to African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Born on February 1st, 1902, Hughes was always someone that brought great ideas to the table and always wanted to make a difference. Hughes was raised mainly by his grandmother due to the fact that his Mom was mainly searching for jobs on and off and his father left him at an early age.
What really put Langston Hughes on the map was his love and creativity for poetry and music. Known as one of the earliest inventors in Jazz Poetry, Hughes created a whole new art form that caught people’s eyes instantly. Most poetry he created was involved with the living conditions with the African-American at the time and how it was going well during that time period. During the Harlem Renaissance people were very joyful. Music and art was gaining a lot of fame.
The reason for me writing about Langston Hughes was my interest in him after learning about him back in high school. Although I have never been big into poetry or jazz but I was inspired by the amount of lives he changed. Even today in modern music and poetry many artist will trace their inspiration and creativity back to Langston Hughes. I figured Langston Hughes would be a good topic to write about because of the effect he made on people who wrote poetry.
Chasar, Mike. “The Sounds of Black Laughter and the Harlem Renaissance: Claude McKay, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes.” American Literature 80.1 (2008): 57-81. Online Copy
In this small article written by Mike Chasar, he discusses the form of African American comedy that emerged with respect to African American authors such as Hughes. The author is going in depth about how Hughes revolutionized comedy and how the new comedy has contributed to the African American society. Mike Chasars audience would primarily be aimed toward the readers of his own racial descent. Throughout the article, Chasar emphasizes the contribution from other authors and their effect on the particular type of comedy.
The article “The Sounds of Black Laughter and the Harlem Renaissance: Claude McKay, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes.” is a reliable source. It discusses topics that are relatable due to Langston Hughes being a large part of the discussion. This article is full of factual evidence and shows no bias or slant information.
Davis, Arthur P. “The Harlem of Langston Hughes’ Poetry.” Phylon 13.4 (1952): 276-283 Online Copy
This is an article written by a Arthur P. Davis, a student attending Clark Atlanta University. Davis openly claims that Langston Hughes is the poet-laureate of Harlem. He then continues to explain how Langston loved the city of Harlem and how Hughes depicts the hopes, aspirations, frustrations, and the deep-seated discontent of the New York ghetto. He is expressing the feelings of Negroes in black ghettos throughout the country. Davis states,” The Harlem of The Weary Blues became therefore for him ‘Jazzonia,’ a new world of escape and release, an exciting never-never land in which “sleek black boys” blew their hearts out on silver trumpets in a “whirling cabaret.” It was a place where the bold eyes of white girls called to black men, and “dark brown girls” were found ‘in blind man’s arms’(277). The cited text show great emphasis on how closely related Hughes was to the “dark” Harlem. The description of the city of Harlem being dark was due to the fact that there is no day-time in “Jazzonia”. The lack of jobs and racism ate away at the daytime hours and turned a world of brightness into a dark alley filled with hate and wrong assumptions. Davis claims the city of Harlem is a wholly, sundown city, illuminated by soft lights, spotlights, jewel-eyed sparklers, and synthetic stars in the scenery. Daylight is the one great enemy here, and when “the new dawn / Wan and pale / Descends like a white mist and it brings only an “aching emptiness.”(277) He is revitalizing the people of Harlem from the depression by way of music and dancing in cabarets.
Arthur P. Davis’s article is reliable, current, and definitely relevant to my topic about Hughes and the revitalization of heritage and jazz and blues. Although, there is some added consideration to the opinions from the collegiate writer. Within the pages of this article, the author puts forth a clear format to someone who might want to express how Langston Hughes was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and does a great job at bringing detail to the way of life that was experienced during this period.
Dawahare, Anthony. “Langston Hughes’s Radical Poetry and the “End of Race”.” Melus 23.3 (1998): 21-41. Online Copy
This article is written by Anthony Dawahare who attends California State University. Throughout this article Anthony writes about the challenges Hughes undergoes during the construction, emergence, and ultimate hegemony of nationalism in the years following World War I. Dawahare states that “The relevance of post-war nationalism to Hughes’s poetry is found in its effect on him and many black intellectuals in and around Harlem during the 1920’s”(24-25). The purpose is that Hughes’s writing has a profound effect on black residents of Harlem in the 1920’s. The author is emphasizing that post-war nationalism has a large effect on Hughes’s writing style, which in turn reflects the effects and dramatization to his readers. Living during times of war has been known to have large effects on the styles and ideas of writers throughout history.
The cited source by Anthony is a useful article that shows some of the effects from everyday life that shaped Langston Hughes work to have an effect on black individuals in Harlem in the 1920’s.
Hughes, Langston. “The Negro artist and the racial mountain.” The Nation 122.23 (1926): 692-694. Online Copy
This is an essay written by Langston Hughes in 1926. In the essay he urges black intellectuals and artists to break free of the artificial standards set for them by the white americans. Hughes is tired and embarrassed of the negro poet that stated , “I want to be a poet–not a Negro poet,” hinting that he meant “I want to write like a white poet”; which subconsciously meaning, “I would like to be a white poet” which in turn came to mean “I would like to be white.” (692) Hughes states that there is a mountain between this that will haunt them, that he is unsure if it will ever be climbed. He feels that middle class blacks live to be as much American as they can, and as much little Negro possible. Hughes feels that black people are trying to be white and use white living, thinking, and doing as their basis of virtues. The author emphasizes that to be a Negro artist is something to be proud of! “To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears”(693). Hughes wants to exemplify that he is black and he is extremely proud to be. He doesn’t want to live the dull Nordic life of a white and lives life through the love of jazz music, as he says “But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul–the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. He wants everyone to know that if the white people look down on the religious and musical life of a lower class Negro, he is okay with it.
This essay is an extremely valid piece of work and is extremely pertinent to my topic. This essay shows the true characteristics of jazz poetry, and it shows how Hughes is reclaiming and revitalizing the lower class African American heritage by way of blues and jazz.
Hughes, Langston. “When the Negro was in Vogue.” The Language of Literature: American Literature (1940): 933-36. Online Copy
This is an essay by Langston Hughes’s depicting the life of Manhattan’s black renaissance in the 1920’s. The author’s purpose in writing this is to emphasize how live entertainment such as plays and musical revues played an important role in the life of a negro of the Harlem Renaissance. The audience is geared to African Americans. The Harlem shows became show nights for Nordics. Hughes’s assumes that live entertainment attracts white Nordics and slightly bettered the terms of racial segregation and Jim Crow Laws.
This article is showing how Hughes is reclaiming and revitalizing the lower class African American heritage. It is extremely reliable knowing that it came from Langston Hughes’s himself. He is showing how the development of nightlife shaped the Harlem Renaissance and how he wrote about the parties and clubs.
Johnson, Patricia A., and Walter C. Farrell. “How Langston Hughes Used the Blues.” Melus 6.1 (1979): 55-63
“Langston Hughes became one of the most innovative voices in American poetry and the first poet in the world to transform the idioms of blues and jazz into poetic verse.” (55). The overall purpose of the article written by Johnson and Farrell was to show how Hughes renovated the world of blues and jazz music. The audience of this article would anyone who listens to blues and jazz. The authors emphasize how Hughes’s importance in the transformation of blues and jazz into modern day. “Negro writers can seek to unite whites and blacks in our country, not on the nebulous basis of an interracial meeting…”(56)
This article is extremely and does not show any slant or bias in it. The evidence in the text clearly supports the author’s main points of how Langston Hughes’s incorporated jazz and blues into the Harlem Renaissance.