Celebrating National Poetry Month

Langston Hughes

We're celebrating National Poetry Month! Throughout the month of April, poets and poetry will be featured and thanks to JSTOR Daily, links to classic American poets and their poems will be offered as well.

Langston Hughes, the author of poems like 50-50, Blues on a Box, Crowing Hen Blues, and Harlem Sweeties, was considered to be a poet of the people. He's been referred to as the Harlem Renaissance's greatest poet, a drag poet. Erin Blakemore writes in JSTOR Daily, "As a gay man, Hughes took part in Harlem's spectacular drag balls, places where all races, genders, and social classes mixed." "For Hughes, the word "drag" had multiple meanings: it described the ways in which his poems' narrators could be of any gender or race; it referred to the ways in which racism "dragged" down the progress of Hughes and his peers."

Hughes wrote novels, short-stories, essays and plays as well. According to the Poetry Foundation, "Hughes brought a varied and colorful background to his writing. Before he was 12 years old he had lived in six different American cities. When his first book was published, he had already been a truck farmer, cook, waiter, college graduate, sailor, and doorman at a nightclub in Paris."

Blakemore continues: "Ultimately, Hughes translated all of his complex identities, affinities, and uncertainties into poetry." Click here to see a collection of Langston Hughes' poetry.