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The same year, a socialist organization published a pamphlet of his radical verse, "A New Song. His first volume of autobiography, The Big Sea , written in an episodic, lightly comic manner, made virtually no mention of his leftist sympathies. In his book of verse Shakespeare in Harlem he once again sang the blues.

Perhaps his finest literary achievement during the war came in the course of writing a weekly column in the Chicago Defender that began in and lasted twenty years.

Langston Hughes: Young Black Poet

The highlight of the column was an offbeat Harlem character called Jesse B. Semple, or Simple, and his exchanges with a staid narrator in a neighborhood bar, where Simple commented on a variety of matters but mainly about race and racism.

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Simple became Hughes's most celebrated and beloved fictional creation, and the subject of five collections edited by Hughes, starting in with Simple Speaks His Mind. Hughes with students in Atlanta during Negro History Week, Photo: Griffith J. However, in Montage of a Dream Deferred he broke new ground with verse accented by the discordant nature of the new bebop jazz that reflected a growing desperation in the black urban communities of the North. At the same time, Hughes's career was vexed by constant harassment by right-wing forces about his ties to the Left.


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In vain he protested that he had never been a Communist and had severed all such links. In he suffered a public humiliation at the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who forced him to appear in Washington, D. Hughes denied that he had ever been a party member but conceded that some of his radical verse had been ill-advised.


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Hughes's career hardly suffered from this episode. Within a short time McCarthy himself was discredited and Hughes was free to write at length about his years in the Soviet Union in I Wonder as I Wander , his much-admired second volume of autobiography. He became prosperous, although he always had to work hard for his measure of prosperity and sometimes called himself, with good cause, a 'literary sharecropper. In the s he constantly looked to the musical stage for success, as he sought to repeat his major coup of the s, when Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice had chosen him as the lyricist for their Street Scene This production was hailed as a breakthrough in the development of American opera; for Hughes, the apparently endless cycle of poverty into which he had been locked came to an end.

Langston Hughes: Young Black Poet (Childhood of Famous Americans)

He bought a home in Harlem. The Simple books inspired a musical show, Simply Heavenly , that met with some success. However, Hughes's Tambourines to Glory , a gospel musical play satirizing corruption in a black storefront church, failed badly, with some critics accusing him of creating caricatures of black life.


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  • Nevertheless, his love of gospel music led to other acclaimed stage efforts, usually mixing words, music, and dance in an atmosphere of improvisation. Notable here were the Christmas show Black Nativity and, inspired by the civil rights movement, Jericho--Jim Crow For Hughes, writing for children was important.

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    Starting with the successful Popo and Fifina , a tale set in Haiti and written with Arna Bontemps, he eventually published a dozen children's books, on subjects such as jazz, Africa, and the West Indies. Proud of his versatility, he also wrote a commissioned history of the NAACP and the text of a much praised pictorial history of black America. His text in The Sweet Flypaper of Life , where he explicated photographs of Harlem by Roy DeCarava, was judged masterful by reviewers, and confirmed Hughes's reputation for an unrivaled command of the nuances of black urban culture.

    The s saw Hughes as productive as ever.

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    In his ambitious book-length poem Ask Your Mama, dense with allusions to black culture and music, appeared. However, the reviews were dismissive. Hughes's work was not as universally acclaimed as before in the black community.

    Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Crash Course Literature 215

    Although he was hailed in as a historic artistic figure at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, he also found himself increasingly rejected by young black militants at home as the civil rights movement lurched toward Black Power. His last book was the volume of verse, posthumously published, The Panther and the Lash , mainly about civil rights. He died in May that year in New York City. Though his interest led him to visit the Soviet Union and travel throughout the country, he never officially joined the Communist Party.

    Though he had published a number of Socialist and otherwise political verse in his younger years, the scare of McCarthyism resulted in Hughes distancing himself from politics. The poems of his later life were lyric rather than political. Though he may be best known as a poet, Hughes was prolific in a wide variety of writing styles. He edited the literary magazine Common Ground , co-wrote the screenplay for Way Down South , and wrote two autobiographies.

    Langston Hughes: Young Black Poet - Montrew Dunham - Google книги

    Hughes was 65 when he died May 22, , of complications after surgery for prostate cancer. Fans wishing to visit his final resting place should head, of course, to Harlem, where his ashes are interred at the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

    I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.