Langston Hughes: Poems

Critical Review of Langston Hughes College

James Mercer Langston Hughes was a Harlem Renaissance leader who is revered to this day as a columnist, playwright, activist, novelist, and poet of incredible contributions to American literature, and he is now considered one of the foremost commenters on the Harlem Renaissance and a pioneer of Jazz poetry. In his autobiography, Hughes famously wrote about the Harlem Renaissance that “Negro was in vogue,” which coined a cliché when David Levering Lewis’s paraphrase of the quote was used as a title for his 1981 book, When Harlem Was in Vogue (Francis 28). Hughes’s writings have experienced the same treatment and retroactive perception that he claimed the Harlem Renaissance experienced in real-time because people often only think about “vogue” pieces of his like specifically “Mother to Son.” This discussion seeks to broaden the perception of Hughes by comparing “Mother to Son” to the vast range of writing styles that four of Hughes’s short stories use to make different commentaries with different tones, and this is intended to put the “vogue” poem in a context that makes it relative to the many other modes he wrote in. This paper will review “Mother to Son” and four short stories to illustrate the range of Hughes’ writing—from...

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