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Langston Hughes

An American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist.

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The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review

  • Nov 14, 2009
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The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review

There is no truth, only that which is true; but what is true for me can be much different for you. The year is 1951 and the poet is Langston Hughes one of the most awe-inspiring authors of all time. Hughes wrote poems, books, essays and songs that emphasized creativity, identity and a Promethean Consciousness for Black people. Hughes wrote the poem Harlem: A dream deferred and Theme for English B in the same year during a time when there was still tension from segregation.

No wonder why in Theme for English B Langston Hughes discusses how an assignment given by a professor at Columbia university to “Go home and write / a page tonight. / and let that page come out of you” is not that simple for him.

According to the professor if he writes something and it comes from inside of him it will be true. Hughes knows the writing assignment won’t be that simple. Langston thinks about why what is true to him may not make the assignment so straightforward, For starters He’s a 22 year old man, colored (black) & was born in North Carolina. He came to Columbia as a transfer student; Langston Hughes goes on to mention how he is the only African American in his class. My Favorite part of the poem is when Langston describes the route he takes to get from his college to his crib; He described some of the very streets I as a native New Yorker have also walked along.
            Hughes makes the claim that He is what he sees, hears and feels; and discusses how he feels Harlem(and New York too!) I am sure many people can associate these feelings with micro personal experiences. When the bright light of the Harlem Renaissance describes his hobbies I felt strongly connected, he show’s his eclectic taste in past-times, and aside from his race Hughes and his professor are not so different in what they might like to do. Communication isn’t transparent between Langston and his instructor and he wonders if he will be able to get his point across the right way.

Langston concurs no matter how much he and his Professor can both be separated by racial tension they are both apart of one another whether they like it or not, This is the Message I liked the most about the poem I also mentioned above how I found it amusing when he described his walk home, the description of the walk stood out in my mind because I like how he chose to use his route home as a way to show where he comes from and give a sense of who he is.

Theme for English B reinforces the thought we can be Lima Beans, Red Beans, White Beans, Black beans, Spanish beans but in the end we are all Human beings!


By Langston Hughes

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me---who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white---
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me---
although you're older---and white---
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review The Ability to Write what is True, an In-depth Poetic Review

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Travis Padilla ()
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James Mercer Langston Hughes, (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best-known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He is also best known for what he wrote about the Harlem Renaissance, "Harlem was in vogue."
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Birth Date: February 1, 1902(1902-02-01)
Birth Place: North Carolina
Gender: Male

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