From School Library Journal
Grade 7-Up This new series provides listeners with archival recordings by renowned 20th century poets, both of their own works and their remarks about their lives and works. This volume excels in the particular poems selected for inclusion and their arrangement, the splices made between recording sessions which allow for a unified hour, and the fact that Langston Hughes discusses themes in his life and work which will resonate with contemporary listeners and readers. The opening tracks feature Hughes talking about his childhood and youth; each poem beyond that is framed by his remarks on its genesis, place in his canon, and connection to the personal, political, or artistic world to which its content is related. Hughes was a comfortable speaker, making this a particularly accessible recording for youth. The paperback book includes the text of each poem as it was published (but not necessarily as Hughes recites it) as well as an introductory essay by poet and critic J. D. McClatchy. This is a stellar choice for both public and school collections, and should be brought to the attention of classroom teachers as an outstanding supplement to the study of contemporary poetry and/or social sciences.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a writer of astonishing range. Poetry, fiction, plays, autobiography, essays, libretti for operas and Broadway musicals, and cantatas - work streamed from his desk. It is as a poet though, that he is best known, and his place at the center of Harlem Renaissance was enormously influential. He was the first African-American to write civil-rights protest poetry, as well as the first to use jazz and the blues as a basis for a literary style. Few poets have ever potrayed so vividly the black experience, its triumphs and travails, and in a language that cunningly dramatizes the folk vernacular. Hughes was born in Missouri, worked as a manual laborer and traveled the world - the better, in the end, to know so intimately the realities of urban life for the displaced and rootless. He wrote with eloquence, humor and a deep humanity.
"A poet," he once wrote, "is a human being. Each human being must live within his time, with and for his people, and within the boundaries of his country." Hughes wrote of the drama of his time with a sense of truth that continues to startle and move.