Archive for the ‘Langston Hughes Month’ Category

Langston Hughes Month: “Dinner Guest: Me”

June 3, 2010

Girls like a boy who reads. Is that Russian?

I know I am
The Negro Problem
Being wined and dined,
Answering the usual questions
That come to white mind
Which seeks demurely
To Probe in polite way
The why and wherewithal
Of darkness U.S.A.–
Wondering how things got this way
In current democratic night,
Murmuring gently
Over fraises du bois,
“I’m so ashamed of being white.”

Langston Hughes and Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), 1962.

The lobster is delicious,
The wine divine,
And center of attention
At the damask table, mine.
To be a Problem on
Park Avenue at eight
Is not so bad.
Solutions to the Problem,
Of course, wait.

(Langston Hughes, “Dinner Guest: Me.”)

Langston Hughes and small friends at the Children’s Garden in Harlem, 1955.

When I first read that poem while loosely planning Langston Hughes Month, it made me think of the chapter in Invisible Man where Ellison’s narrator encounters the gay son of a man who he thinks will give him a job in the city, but in fact, the man has been instructed to reject the narrator. The man’s son tells the narrator the truth, then attempts to compare his own experiences as an oppressed homosexual with the narrator’s. The comparison comes off cheap and condescending in the man’s son’s delivery, and the narrator does not trust him. I feel like that’s somewhat of the same experience Hughes describes here.

Langston Hughes Month: “Songs”

May 28, 2010

“November Under Light.” Sam Haskins, November Girl (1966).

I sat there singing her
Songs in the dark.

She said,
“I do not understand
The words.”

I said,
“There are
No words.”

— Langston Hughes, “Songs.”

A beautiful and true sentiment.

Langston Hughes Month: “To Artina”

May 27, 2010

I will take your heart.
I will take your soul out of your body
As though I were God.
I will not be satisfied
With the touch of your hand
Nor the sweet of your lips alone.
I will take your heart for mine.
I will take your soul.
I will be God when it comes to you.

(Langston Hughes, “To Artina.”)

Synecdoche and possession in the eye of the male observer — murdering the Object: it is a Thing.

Photographer unknown, picture comes from a vintage Pirelli calendar shoot. Kind of a Jane Birkin Inspiration Station thing happening. I approve.

Langston Hughes Month: “The Dream Keeper”

May 26, 2010

Photograph by Lloyd Hughes.

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

— Langston Hughes, “The Dream Keeper.”

Langston Hughes Month: “Catch”

May 25, 2010

The lovely and talented Stephanie Seymour for Playboy, 1993.

Big Boy came
Carrying a mermaid
On his shoulders
And the mermaid
Had her tail
Beneath his arm.

“Mermaid at Weeki Wachi, FL, May 1974” via What Makes the Pie Shops Tick? on the flickr.

Being a fisher boy,
He’d found a fish
To carry—
Half fish,
Half girl
To marry.

(Langston Hughes, “Catch.”)

Langston Hughes Month: Dig and be dug in return

May 24, 2010

I stay cool, and dig all jive,
That’s the way I stay alive.
My motto,
as I live and learn,
Dig and be dug
In return.

(Langston Hughes, “Motto.”)

Langston Hughes Month: Quiet Girl

May 22, 2010

I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.

–Langston Hughes, “Quiet Girl”

Langston Hughes Month: Walkers With the Dawn

May 19, 2010

Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness–
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

(Langston Hughes,”Walkers With the Dawn”)

Langston Hughes month: “Helen Keller”

May 17, 2010

In the dark,
Found light
Brighter than many ever see.

Within herself,
Found loveliness,
Through the soul’s own mastery.

And now the world receives
From her dower:
The message of the strength
Of inner power.

(Langston Hughes, “Helen Keller.”)

I think it’s really beautiful and awesome that Mr. Hughes took the time to recognize in Helen Keller a kindred spirit and spare so many thoughts and special words for her. It is a testament to both their spirits.

Langston Hughes Month: “Fire-caught”

May 14, 2010

The gold moth did not love him
So, gorgeous, she flew away.
But the gray moth circled the flame
Until the break of day.
And then, with wings like a dead desire,
She fell, fire-caught, into the flame.

— “Fire-caught,” Langston Hughes.

Et tu, Jane?

Langston Hughes Month: Broken-winged birds

May 11, 2010

Hold fast to your dreams,
for if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.

— “Dreams,” Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes Month, Inaugural Edition: “Dream-dust”

May 9, 2010

This May 22nd will mark the forty-third anniversary of the death of the dashing, amazing, trailblazing and talented Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes. I totally don’t know shit enough about him or the width of his body of work as I ought to, besides the obvious anthologized poem choices and blurbs I’ve read in textbooks through the years, and I don’t like that. I’d like that to change this month. Join me! I’m starting … now.

Gather out of star-dust,
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust,
Not for sale.

— “Dream-dust,” Langston Hughes.