With the publication of his first book of poems, The Weary Blues, in 1926, Langston Hughes electrified readers and launched a renaissance in black writing in America. The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who "rushed the boots of Washington"; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in "the raffle of night." They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture. They spanned the range from the lyric to the polemic, ringing out "wonder and pain and terror-- and the marrow of the bone of life."
The poems in this collection were chosen by Hughes himself shortly before his death in 1967 and represent work from his entire career, including "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "The Weary Blues," "Still Here," "Song for a Dark Girl," "Montage of a Dream Deferred," and "Refugee in America." It gives us a poet of extraordinary range, directness, and stylistic virtuosity.
About the Author
Evelyn Louise Crawford and MaryLouise Patterson(a San Francisco art consultant and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Cornell) are the daughters of some of Langston Hughes's closest black friends and political comrades. They remained cherished friends and confidantes of his for over forty years. Their parents, Louise Thompson Patterson (1901 1999), William L. Patterson (1891 1980), Matt N. Crawford (1903 1996), and Evelyn Graces Crawford (1899 1972), were black Communist civil rights activists. Langston Hughes often stayed with them, and they all traveled together, corresponded about key issues of the day, and took a joint trip to the Soviet Union. Langston Hughes wrote poems to celebrate both girls' births.