Friday, February 1, 2013

Langston Hughes

Today is the birthday anniversary of James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967).  Langston Hughes as he was called was an African American icon of the twentieth century. He is also one of my favorite poets and writers. He wore many hats as an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance.  He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. "

I interviewed him when I was in high school, and he asked to see some of my writings. We met at the Schomburg Library and he took time to read and encourage my work. He told me I was  a writer and he would love to work with me. I was very curious and impressed by his generous spirit since I had not thought of myself as a writer. We stayed in contact for only a short while because he passed away in my first year in college.  I am so grateful for that short encounter with this munificent icon.

Recently I learned that "his ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. It is the entrance to an auditorium named for him. The design on the floor is an African cosmogram titled Rivers. The title is taken from his poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". Within the center of the cosmogram is the line: My soul has grown deep like the rivers'."

Maple Sugar Child takes its' name and inspiration from his poem, Winter Sweetness.

                                          Winter Sweetness

                                      The little house is sugar, 
                                      Its roof with snow is piled.
                                      And from its tiny window,
                                      Peeps a maple-sugar child.

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