Artist Feature: Langston Hughes

When I was in 8th grade my English teacher Mr. Cappozzoli introduced me to poetry. I immediately fell in love with it.  Although I didn’t get the courage to actually put my own thoughts down till recently, I’ve always enjoyed reading the words of others. One of my favorite poets is Langston Hughes.  I remember having to dissect a poem that year and I chose I Dream A World. I wish I still had it to see what my 13 year old self said about it but I know that I got an A on it! And it’s still one of my favorites.

I Dream A World
by: Langston Hughes

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Reading this poem again brings back all of the reason’s why I fell in love with poetry. James Langston Hughes was raised by his grandmother till age 12 after his parents divorced and went their separate ways. He later moved to Lincoln, Illinois with his mother and it was there that he began to write poetry.

At the very young age of 22, Hughes completed his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues. In 1930, following college graduation from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Hughes won the Harmon gold medal for literature for his first novel, Not Without Laughter.

Hughes’ works are known for his experience as a black American from the 20’s till the 60’s. Unlike the work of other prominent poets if his times, Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.

I hope that his work can inspire you the way it did me. Something that I’ve been struggling with in my short life as an adult is really learning what I’m passionate about. I love so many things and I’ve surrounded myself with amazingly talented people that sometimes it’s hard to focus on one thing or the other. I think that Hughes was able to realize that his passion was writing whether it was poems, plays or novels, he continued to write. That was his passion and it’s my hope that I find mine soon.