Hughes encountered mixed reactions to his work throughout his career. Black intellectuals often denounced him for portraying unsophisticated aspects of lower-class life, claiming that this furthered the unfavorable image of his race. Toward the end of his life, as the struggle for American civil rights became increasingly widespread, Hughes was also faulted by militants for failing to address controversial issues. Nevertheless, Hughes’s reputation with readers has remained consistently strong, chiefly due to his poetry and short stories.
James Hughes was, by his son’s account, a cold man who hated blacks (and hated himself for being one), feeling that most of them deserved their ill fortune because of what he considered their ignorance and laziness.
Influenced by Alain Locke’s 1925 anthology The New Negro, Hughes responded by reinterpreting the black experience to promote a positive identity for the African American and to subvert white stereotypes of ”Negroes.” He also experimented in order to embrace those the black elite would rather obscure. The criticism each Hughes production brought from one group or another, even within the African American population, shows the difficulty of writing for the stage during this era. African Americans could not agree on what an authentic black production should be, and because of racism prevalent in American culture, they were especially sensitive to what audiences made of black representations. This critical judgment from all sides did not diminish Hughes’s efforts to portray the African American spirit and culture in various ways. Many of Hughes’s dramas remain unproduced—and unpublished in some cases. Increasing critical recognition of his contributions may, however, lead to production and publication of some of these works.
The validity of the central idea, individual versus society, is revealed through both character’s choices to either be the pariah within their community or fall under peer pressure in order to attain false acceptance....
Jazz Poetry Hughes is perhaps most famous for the way in which his poetry is informed by jazz music. The genre is characterized by the poet responding to and writing about jazz, or using the musical sounds and structures of jazz as the basis for poetic forms. Like the music it reflects, jazz poetry encompasses a variety of forms, sounds, and rhythms. Beginning with the birth of blues and jazz at the beginning of the twentieth century, jazz poetry can be seen as a constant running through the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, and the Black Arts Movement. It is still quite vibrant today. From early blues to experimental music, jazz poets use their love of the genre to inspire their poetry. One of the best examples of Hughes’s use of music to inform his poetry can be found in ”The Weary Blues,” one of his most well known poems. The poem is about a piano player in Harlem, and it captures the flavor of the night life, people, and folk forms that became characteristic of the experimental writing of the Renaissance.
Hughes’ poetry portrays the glories of equality, liberty, and the “American Dream” as the disenfranchised were trapped beneath oppression, poverty, and prejudice....
Langston Hughes’ poetry frequently cites the “American Dream” from the perspective of those who were disenfranchised in American, such as the Native Americans, African Americans, poor farmers, and oppressed immigrants.
He is recognized for his poetry and like many other writers from the Harlem Renaissance, lived most of his life outside of Harlem (“Langston Hughes” 792).
Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.
In formal aspects, Hughes was innovative in that other writers of the Harlem Renaissance stuck with existing literary conventions, while Hughes wrote several poems and stories inspired by the improvised, oral traditions of black culture (Baym, 2221)....
The American Dream was defined by James Truslow Adams as, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Langston Hughes).
In the poem it seems as if Langston is talking from the perspective of someone living in Harlem he explains how equality and freedom is sadly not what the African-Americans of Harlem experience....
In the poem Langston Hughes uses a range of illusions, rhetorical questions, figurative language and stanza to explain that a dream deferred can end with the entire population in a war.
Despite his success in a variety of genres, Hughes considered himself primarily a poet. In the late 1930s, after producing numerous plays and short stories, he returned to writing poetry. These later collections of verse, however, show an increasingly bleak view of black America. In Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951) Hughes contrasted the drastically deteriorated state of Harlem in the 1950s to the Harlem he had known in the 1920s. Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz (1961) consists of twelve poems that comment on the political turbulence of the early 1960s. Hughes’s final collection of verse, The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times, was published posthumously in 1967.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?