After assorted odd jobs, he gained white-collar employment in as a personal assistant to historian Carter G. As the work demands limited his time for writing, Hughes quit the position to work as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. There he encountered poet Vachel Lindsay , with whom he shared some poems. Impressed with the poems, Lindsay publicized his discovery of a new black poet. By this time, Hughes's earlier work had been published in magazines and was about to be collected into his first book of poetry.
The following year, Hughes enrolled in Lincoln University , a historically black university in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. After Hughes earned a B. Except for travels to the Soviet Union and parts of the Caribbean , he lived in Harlem as his primary home for the remainder of his life.
During the s, he became a resident of Westfield, New Jersey for a time, sponsored by his patron Charlotte Osgood Mason. Some academics and biographers believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, as did Walt Whitman , whom Hughes said influenced his poetry. Hughes's story "Blessed Assurance" deals with a father's anger over his son's effeminacy and "queerness".
Arnold Rampersad , the primary biographer of Hughes, determined that Hughes exhibited a preference for African-American men in his work and life. Hughes did, however, show a respect and love for his fellow black man and woman. Other scholars argue for his homosexuality: On May 22, , Hughes died in New York City at the age of 65 from complications after abdominal surgery related to prostate cancer.
His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The title is taken from his poem " The Negro Speaks of Rivers ". Within the center of the cosmogram is the line: My soul has grown deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. Except for McKay, they worked together also to create the short-lived magazine Fire!! Devoted to Younger Negro Artists. Hughes and his contemporaries had different goals and aspirations than the black middle class. Hughes and his fellows tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata.
They criticized the divisions and prejudices within the black community based on skin color. The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter.
We know we are beautiful. The tom-tom cries, and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain free within ourselves. His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working-class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music.
Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America's image of itself; a "people's poet" who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality.
The night is beautiful, So the faces of my people. The stars are beautiful, So the eyes of my people Beautiful, also, is the sun. Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people. Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate.
His thought united people of African descent and Africa across the globe to encourage pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic. Hughes was one of the few prominent black writers to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists.
A radical black self-examination was emphasized in the face of European colonialism. At a time before widespread arts grants, Hughes gained the support of private patrons and he was supported for two years prior to publishing this novel.
In , Hughes and Ellen Winter wrote a pageant to Caroline Decker in an attempt to celebrate her work with the striking coal miners of the Harlan County War , but it was never performed. It was judged to be a "long, artificial propaganda vehicle too complicated and too cumbersome to be performed. Maxim Lieber became his literary agent, —45 and — Chambers and Lieber worked in the underground together around — Hughes' first collection of short stories was published in with The Ways of White Folks.
He finished the book at a Carmel, California cottage provided for a year by Noel Sullivan, another patron. Overall, they are marked by a general pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism. In , Hughes received a Guggenheim Fellowship. The same year that Hughes established his theatre troupe in Los Angeles, he realized an ambition related to films by co-writing the screenplay for Way Down South. In Chicago, Hughes founded The Skyloft Players in , which sought to nurture black playwrights and offer theatre "from the black perspective.
The column ran for twenty years. In , Hughes began publishing stories about a character he called Jesse B. Semple, often referred to and spelled "Simple", the everyday black man in Harlem who offered musings on topical issues of the day. In , he spent three months at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools as a visiting lecturer. He wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, operas, essays, and works for children.
With the encouragement of his best friend and writer, Arna Bontemps , and patron and friend, Carl Van Vechten , he wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander , as well as translating several works of literature into English. From the mids to the mids, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide.
With the gradual advance toward racial integration , many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist. Hughes wanted young black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee it.
Hughes's work Panther and the Lash , posthumously published in , was intended to show solidarity with these writers, but with more skill and devoid of the most virulent anger and racial chauvinism some showed toward whites.
He often helped writers by offering advice and introducing them to other influential persons in the literature and publishing communities. This latter group, including Alice Walker , whom Hughes discovered, looked upon Hughes as a hero and an example to be emulated within their own work. One of these young black writers Loften Mitchell observed of Hughes:. Langston set a tone, a standard of brotherhood and friendship and cooperation, for all of us to follow.
You never got from him, 'I am the Negro writer,' but only 'I am a Negro writer. Hughes, like many black writers and artists of his time, was drawn to the promise of Communism as an alternative to a segregated America. Many of his lesser-known political writings have been collected in two volumes published by the University of Missouri Press and reflect his attraction to Communism.
An example is the poem "A New Song". This struggle is characterized in his book-length poem, Montage of a Dream Deferred. In , the poet oversaw the compilation of Selected Poems of Langston Hughes.
Two years later Hughes saw the final collection of his own poetry in print, Ask Your Mama: The Panther and the Lash: Uncollected Social Protest Writings by Langston Hughes posthumously brought to public attention the depth and range of Hughes's politically controversial verse, essays, and other works from earlier in the century.
Yet the definitive volume of Hughes's poetic output is considered by many critics to be The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes Hughes's literary reputation was built not just on his work as a poet, but on his skill as a prose writer, as well.
One of his most beloved fictional characters, Jesse B. Semple shortened to Simple , was a stereotypical poor man living in Harlem, a storyteller eager to share his tales of trouble with a writer-character named Boyd, in exchange for a drink. Through the popular tales of Jesse B. Semple, Hughes offered astute commentary on the problems of being a poor black man in a racist society. He also published two volumes of autobiography: Throughout his career Hughes encountered mixed reactions to his work.
Many black intellectuals denounced him for portraying unsophisticated aspects of lower-class life, claiming that his focus furthered the unfavorable image of African Americans. His second poetry collection, Fine Clothes to the Jew, was well received by mainstream literary critics but roundly criticized by his African American peers and critics—in part for its title, but largely for its frank portrayal of urban life in a poor, black Harlem neighborhood.
While some critics accused Hughes of bolstering negative racial stereotypes through his choice of subject matter, others faulted him for employing vernacular speech and black dialect in the portrayal of the Harlem streets. But they seemed to me good people, too. During the s some of Hughes's younger literary peers were of the opinion that he did not fully embrace the Civil Rights movement.
And if he has none, why not? The age demands intellectual commitment from its spokesmen. Langston Hughes, edited by Harold Bloom, pp. Chelsea House Publishers, The Early New Negro Literature , focuses on the aspect of self-expression and race identification in the works of Langston Hughes.
When Countee Cullen wondered whether some of Langston Hughes's poems were poems at all, he was not alone. It was she who gave him my short story, To Hell With Dying ; she who understood the trauma and insight that was at the root of it; she who—in her rather hearty, absent-minded friendliness—was determined to support Black America's Poet Laureate.
Whitson Publishing Company, He was one of the most prolific writers in American literary history. His plays, poems, and anthologies have found a permanent place in this nation's literary canon, and his work continues to inform Afro-American literature and theater. For several generations of Afro-American artists, his work has vividly illustrated the creative Here, the relation of blacks is to early civilizations like Mesopotamia and Syria along with Africa.
Finally, Hughes concluded by integrating an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln traveling down the Mississippi river on his way to New Orleans, a highly centralized black community in the south. Therefore, Hughes effectively integrated important historical events to present a shared experience by all people, not just blacks.
This work did not rely on the exclusivity of African-American experiences like segregation , slavery and life in Africa. Moreover, Hughes inclusion of the concept of human blood and veins suggests the theme of life and connectivity.
For instance, ancient cultures built their civilizations around rivers and bodies of water because they were ideal habitats for fostering continuous life within large groups of humans. In relation, the blood in human bodies makes life possible to sustain by keeping the organism alive as blood is constantly pumped throughout the body.
Under the theme of life, this quote suggests that rivers and human blood flowing are both a timeless and essential human experience throughout history. Since these elements were not limited to blacks, whites, or any ethnicity, Hughes utilized the broader context of the human condition, not just the black experience. The effectiveness of Hughes poem stems from the fact that he utilized cultural elements on a broad scope to relate to whites.
Indeed, recent scholarship suggests that an effective tool in literature is the cultural element. This cultural element was effective because it was not exclusive; instead, it related to the human condition of shared experiences and events. This element allowed Hughes to successfully draw from African-American culture and promote black heritage without fear or shame Dawahare, In using cultural elements like historical events that included people of all races and skin tones, Hughes epitomized the perspective of a shared world that everyone contributed to.
Instead, the African-American perspective is woven equally into the fabric of history of time along with every other race. This suggests that there is mutual respect for life and other cultures within the context of his poem. Hughes poem was also effective because it overshadowed the context of just America, but took a global perspective. In writing a poem that applied to a shared global history, Hughes applied a creative way of integrating black identity.
The milestones of building the pyramids and the inclusion of Lincoln going to New Orleans thus effectively integrated black identity because both of these examples stem from black history blacks helped build the pyramids and New Orleans was the epitome of southern black culture.
Therefore, Hughes creatively utilized the theme of a shared, global, and mobile identity to integrate the African-American presence throughout history. In delivering an effective Harlem Renaissance poem, Hughes utilized the cultural elements of shared historical experiences and the human condition shared by both blacks and whites.
- Life and Work of Langston Hughes Early Years James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, , to James Nathaniel Hughes, a lawyer and businessman, and Carrie Mercer (Langston) Hughes, a teacher.
Langston Hughes (Full name: James Mercer Langston Hughes) African American poet, short-story writer, dramatist, essayist, novelist, and autobiographer. The following entry presents criticism of Hughes's life and career from through
Writing an essay on Langston Hughes? Read this sample essay on Langston Hughes that touches on his racial views and how whites were unjust towards blacks.3/5(4). Langston Hughes: Poems Langston Hughes Langston Hughes: Poems essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of poetry by Langston Hughes.
Essay on The Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes Words | 5 Pages Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance in the s, which was the first major movement of African- . Salvation by Langston Hughes 'Salvation', by Langston Hughes is part of an autobiographical work written in The author narrates a story centering on a revival gathering that happened in his childhood.