• Susan Ward

Poetry & Art: Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a poet, playwright, novelist, and social activist. He wrote about the challenges and successes and daily life of Blacks. He spent time in Mexico, Europe, and Africa. His life and writings shaped the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of intellectual, artistic, and social change that was centered in Harlem, New York. Mr. Hughes' poems gave new voice to Black Americans. Many of his poems depicted Blacks by using jazz rhythms and dialect.


Dreams


Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.



Langston Hughes, as part of the Harlem Renaissance, was well-connected with other writers and artists. This was the era of jazz and Art Deco architecture. To give context to Langston Hughes poem, look at the art below. Charles Henry Alston was a sculptor and artist who designed book covers for Langston Hughes' books. Here are two examples of his art:


Stud Poker, 1938, Charles Henry Alston (1907-1997), American, Charlotte, North Carolina, lithograph. Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain.









Barn and Tree, 1935-43, Charles Henry AlstonCharles Henry Alston (1907-1997), American, Charlotte, North Carolina, lithograph. Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain.











And, take a look at "Walking" by Charles Henry Alston, painted in 1958, at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History.


Today, where will you find ways to connect different forms of art? Poetry and art? Theater and music? Painting and dance? Art, in all its forms, builds mental wellness and emotional resiliency.

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