Location: WAB – 740 University Ave.
Langston Hughes was a leading voice among the African American artists of the 1920s whose sudden emergence came to be called the Harlem Renaissance. He remains one of our nation’s greatest and most remarkable poets. In language as revealing as it is simple and direct, Hughes conveys the realities of African-American life both in our northern cities and the rural south. James Baldwin, who grew up in Harlem, later said, “[Hughes] showed me what was before my eyes, but he made me see it.” Yet, for all their particularity, Hughes’s poems achieve something larger. In his verse, concrete details become symbolic, and the black experience in America—in all of its injustice and frustration, its courage and endurance, its genius and triumph—becomes something through which any reader can feel grief, anger, joy, and pride. He shows us much of what it means to be an American. This short seminar will offer a representative sampling of Hughes’s verse, and participants will be encouraged to propose their own favorites for discussion. No prior knowledge of Hughes or special expertise in reading poems is required.