A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902-1967

Excerpt

Even a dependable memory sometimes plays tricks, and often enough I have had to call mine to task. This has never been true, I hasten to add, when the subject was the life and works of Langston Hughes.Even his adolescent poems were unforgettable. His personal history, as one picked it up from fragments in newspapers and magazines, had begun to read like a legend long before he finished college.

I seem to be the member of the Harlem literary group of the twenties elected to hold in trust a certain legacy of recollections, and the first of these is that he was our bellwether in that early dawn. The first poems by Langston that I read appeared in the Crisis in the summer of 1924. That magazine had been publishing articles, stories and poems by him for several years, but being away at a college that did not subscribe to such periodicals, immersed in the reading of the "Chief American Poets" and collections of British poetry of the Victorian era, I had missed the earlier Hughes works as well as most of the other American Negroana of the period. Lines like "We have tomorrow/ Bright before us/ Like a flame" and "I am waiting for my mother/ She is Death", as they appeared in those months, struck me with such surprise, seemed so quietly disturbing, they immediately convinced me I had been missing something important, something I needed.

But I was rushing away to New York as I made the discovery, and it was not 'till I arrived in Harlem that I was able to go to the Public Library and look up back issues of the Crisis and Opportunity and other periodicals hospitable to the work of Langston Hughes and his contemporaries of that period. I did not have to be told, as I browsed, that I had been short-changed in a significant area of my basic education. So many lights began flashing all around me, I could not fail to get the message. I eagerly set about trying to correct the omissions and perhaps repair some of the damage to dreams . . .

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