On the birthday my favorite poet and my inspiration for how I write as a poet, Langston Hughes, I feel it befitting to kick off my month long homage to Black Creativity, with my
“february cafe, 28 days of black creativity” series. Please read the Biography and two of the best poems ever, below: “I, Too, Sing America” and “Harlem Sweeties”.
(excerpt from poets.org) Bio: James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, 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, as in “Montage of a Dream Deferred.” His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—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. In addition to leaving us a large body of poetic work, Hughes wrote eleven plays and countless works of prose, including the well-known “Simple” books: Simple Speaks His Mind, Simple Stakes a Claim,Simple Takes a Wife, and Simple’s Uncle Sam. He edited the anthologies The Poetry of the Negro and The Book of Negro Folklore, wrote an acclaimed autobiography (The Big Sea) and co-wrote the play Mule Bone with Zora Neale Hurston.
- Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!Sing America” (from http://www.poets.org) and my favorite LH poem, “Harlem Sweeties”:
(Find poems like this and millions more at www.poets.org where you can sign up to get a poem a day sent do your inbox)
Harlem Sweeties by Langston Hughes
Have you dug the spill/Of Sugar Hill?/Cast your gims/On this sepia thrill:/Brown sugar lassie, caramel treat,/Honey-gold baby/Sweet enough to eat./Peach-skinned girlie,/Coffee and cream,/Chocolate darlie/Out of a dream./Walnut tinted /Or cocoa brown,/Pomegranate-lipped/Pride of the town./Rich cream-colored/To plum-tinted black,/Feminine sweetness/In Harlem’s no lack./Glow of the quince/To blush of the rose./Persimmon bronze/To cinnamon toes./Blackberry cordial, Virginia Dare wine—/All those sweet colors/Flavor Harlem of mine!/Walnut or cocoa,/Let me repeat:/Caramel, brown sugar,/ A chocolate treat./Molasses taffy,/Coffee and cream,/Licorice, clove, cinnamon/To a honey-brown dream./Ginger, wine-gold,/Persimmon, blackberry,/All through the spectrum/Harlem girls vary—/So if you want to know beauty’s/Rainbow-sweet thrill,/Stroll down luscious,/Delicious, ‘fine’ Sugar Hill.
I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed-- I, too, am America. thank you for reading and supporting grown up creativity follow m on twitter: @ivywriter