Langston Hughes: Poems

African-American Urbanity: From Langston Hughes to Nas College

Specifically from a literary perspective, the Harlem Renaissance—also known as the New Negro Movement—is often held up as one of the most artistically prolific, localized movements in Western literature, producing writers such as Gwendolyn Bennett, Nella Larsen, Esther Popel, and Jean Toomer. No Harlem Renaissance writer has received as much recognition and adulation as Langston Hughes, though, a poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist who is now firmly entrenched in the Western literary canon. While Hughes had a unique poetic style—he favored short lyric poems with simple, concrete images that often featured deceptively optimistic rhyme schemes; his voice was unmistakably his—the subject matters and themes he chose to write about were just as distinctive. Through his poetry, Hughes unflinchingly examined the African-American condition in the first half of the twentieth century: landlords mistreated their tenants, dreams were crushed by the weight of institutional racism, Western history—that usually focused on the “victories” and “successes” of white men—was reexamined questioned; most importantly, his poetry was embedded with a love and celebration for African-American culture. This latter characteristic was shared amongst...

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