Al Young title

THIS WAS THE BLUES OF LANGSTON HUGHES (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

February 1st, 2015



Such was the blues
of Langston Hughes xxxx

What was the blues
of Langston Hughes?

1656024_10152209535418529_1963099227_n magnifying_glass_icon Magnify

Brazilian painter LucĂ­lio de Albuquerque (1877-1939): MĂŁe Preta (Black Mother), 1912

Like democracy, this page is always under reconstruction





Photo: Carl Van Vechten

langston-hughes 38px-Speaker_Icon.svg
Jazz & Literature | PRX | Jeff Haas with Sascha Feinstein


“Looks like what drives me crazy
Don’t have no effect on you —
But I’m gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.”
Langston Hughes, Selected Poems

“My chief literary influences have been Paul Laurence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman. My favorite public figures include Jimmy Durante, Marlene Dietrich, Mary McLeod Bethune, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Marian Anderson and Henry Armstrong … I live in Harlem, New York City. I am unmarried. I like ‘Tristan,’ goat’s milk, short novels, lyric poems, heat, simple folk, boats and bullfights; I dislike ‘Aida,’ parsnips, long novels, narrative poems, cold, pretentious folk, buses and bridges.”
— Langston Hughes
(Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary)


The City College of New York

CCNY Langston Hughes Festival



2014 Langston Hughes African American Film Festival Call for Work: Films Wanted

The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival (LHAAFF) now has an online entry system available through Without a Box: at
Here’s some information about our call for Work for the 2014 LHAAFF, which begins on Saturday, April 26 and wraps up on Saturday, May 3, 2014


Fall 2013 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Matthew Pettway Button-Play-32x32

Matthew Pettway
Assistant Professor of Spanish, Bates College

Dr. Pettway is the Fall 2013 Langston Hughes Professor and visiting in the Spanish and Portuguese Department where he is teaching two classes. Since 1977 the professorship has brought scholars in a range of disciplines to campus in honor of Langston Hughes, the African American writer who lived in Lawrence ages 1 to 12 (1903-1916). Professor Pettway is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Bates College where he teaches classes and conducts research in Cuban Cultural Studies, Hispanophone Caribbean Literature and Nineteenth Century Latin American letters. He earned his Ph.D. in Hispanic Cultural Studies at Michigan State University. Professor Pettway’s research can be best described as a literary excavation of Afro-Cuban colonial literature that seeks to gather dispersed fragments of the past in order to define and reconstitute racial and religious subjectivities embedded in the text. His book-length project, Afro-Cuban Literature in a Society of Dead Poets: Race, Religion and Ritual in the Age of Revolution is an analysis of the politics of race and religion in the poetry, narrative, correspondence and trail records of Juan Francisco Manzano and Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés, the most prolific black literary writers in colonial Cuba. Dr. Pettway argues that black writers used Catholicism as subterfuge to inscribe an Afro-Caribbean religiosity that transculturated Cuban literature and posited a broad project of emancipation.

David G. Holmes named 2013 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Spring 2013 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

David G. Holmes

David G. Holmes, Professor

English and Director of African American Studies at Pepperdine University

David G. Holmes is Professor of English and Director of African American Studies at Pepperdine University. The author of Revisiting Racialized Voice: African American Ethos in Language and Literature, some of his articles have appeared in College English, Rhetoric Review and the award-winning anthology Calling Cards. His current interests include African American expressive culture, political rhetoric, political theology, religious rhetoric and rhetorics of racism. His major project focuses on remapping the rhetorical narratives of the Birmingham mass meetings of 1963. A frequent presenter at the CCC and RSA, he has held offices in the Conference on College Composition and Communication and has served on the editorial board for the CCC journal. He recently received the Howard A. White Award for teaching excellence at Pepperdine.

Tammy Kernodle named 2012 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Spring 2012 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Dr. Tammy Kernodle

Dr. Tammy Kernodle, Musicologist

Associate Professor of Musicology at Miami University School of Fine Arts

Dr. Tammy L. Kernodle, Associate Professor of Musicology (Miami University School of Fine Arts), graduated cum laude with a BM in choral music education and piano from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.Ms. Kernodle received a MA and PhD in Music History from Ohio State University. Her scholarship has focused mainly on various genres of African American music, American music and jazz. She has served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lectured extensively on the operas of William Grant Still, the life and religious compositions of jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. Her work has appeared in Musical Quarterly, American Music Research Journal, and a Jane Bernstein’s anthology addressing the contributions of women to music entitled Women’s Voices Across Musical Worlds. She is the author of the biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams, (Northeastern University Press) which chronicles the life and music of Williams, whose career in jazz spans six decades.


Jas Baldwin NYC 1976 

button camJames Baldwin on reading Hughes’ poetry
(Yale University Library)




200px-LangstonHughe_25 Langston Hughes in 1925

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes in 1939

Photographs by Carl Van Vechten


Langston Hughes in 1940

Democracy will not come
Today, this year

Nor ever

Through compromise and fear.

–Langston Hughes



Langston Hughes

February 1, 1902~May 22, 1967

wearyblues.jpg ways-of-white-folks-cvr.jpg dreamkeeper-cvr.jpg mule-bone-cvr.jpg sweetflypaper55-779295.jpg negro-folklore-cvr.jpg panther-lash-cvr-1992.jpg first-book-of-jazz.jpg

7003p-hughesgreat-black-americans-langston-hughes-posters.jpg KSRL_BookofNegros the big sea wonder as i wander

hughes_typing_fullCourtesy photo

A pack of smokes, a desk, a lamp, a typewriter, a telephone, and a nimble-fingered Langston Hughes


jpjohnson-1894-1955.jpg Courtesy photo

James P. Johnson | 1894-1955 Master stride pianist and Harlem composer of “Carolina Shout” and “The Charleston,””You’ve Got to Be Modernistic,” “Snowy Morning Blues,” symphonic scores, and further classics.

38px-Speaker_Icon.svg SNOWY MORNING BLUES

in tribute to James P. Johnson & Langston Hughes

New York, you know, has its New Yorks,
Manhattan her Queens, the Bronx
keepers of flames with all their names intact.
Now that’s a fact. Upside it, though,
you’ll put your heart and everything
you know or thought you knew of snow.

When Snowy Morning Blues plays James P. Johnson’s
game of catch-me-if-you-can, you can. He could, too.
New York ain’t no last word, you know.
Nothing’s what it used to be. And you, the you who sees
out past the end of the world, this snow, this wee wind-
fall he fells us with under eaves the way we all fall
under suspicion in detective movies.
Blam! Blame it on the blues, blame it on a blizzard.

Diamonded, grounded in its ice cream crisscross,
snow makes you take to the country again, harmonica in hand,
craving the guitar of a pianistic You-Gotta-Be-Modernistic
genius — you can’t get into this. Let snow tell its own story.
Let the blues roll on. Let snow fall right on time this time
blue, blank, blackening the city-within-a-city christened
in Dutch: Harlem, Haarlem,
Vermeer, beware.

— Al Young

© 2001, 2006 and 2007 by Al Young
from The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000
reprinted in Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry


lh_boy Historic photo

Langston Hughes in Lawrence, Kansas: Photographs & Biographical Resources
by Denise Low and T.F. Pecore Weso

Langston Hughes, the great American poet who inspired the Harlem Renaissance, spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. Authors Denise Low and T.F. Pecore Weso assemble photos & new research about Lawrence sites associated with Langston Hughes. Hughes lived with his grandmother in Lawrence much of the time from his birth in 1902 until his grandmother’s death in 1915. Because of the efforts of Lawrence preservationists, many of the structures are still standing.

hughesstamp LANGSTON HUGHES at PAL
(Perspectives in American Literature):

A Research and Reference Guide
An Ongoing Project

© Paul P. Reuben



Langston Hughes, the busboy-poet, Washington, DC, early 1920s

« Read the 1967 NY Times obituary account of how busboy on-duty Langston Hughes got “discovered” after he slipped three poems under poet Vachel Lindsay’s luncheon plate at the Wardman Park Hotel, where young Hughes worked. »


Visit the website of DC’s Busboys and Poets, a restaurant, bookstore, fair trade market and gathering place, where people can discuss issues of social justice and peace. Each Busboys and Poets location should enhance the community — allowing us to bring together a diverse clientele reflective of the surrounding neighborhoods. Busboys and Poets creates an environment where shared conversations over food and drink allow the progressive, artistic and literary communities to dialogue, educate and interact. Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place.

First established in 2005, Busboys and Poets was created by owner Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist and restaurateur. After opening, the flagship location at 14th and V Streets, NW (Washington DC), the neighboring residents and the progressive community, embraced Busboys, especially activists opposed to the Iraq War. Busboys and Poets is now located in three distinctive neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area and is a community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers.


by Langston Hughes

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.

Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
Hey, boy! A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar, Two dollars
Buys shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
My God!
Babies and gin and church and women and
Sunday all mixed up with dimes and dollars
and clean spittoons and house rent to pay.
Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord,
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished —
Come ‘ere, boy!

© Estate of Langston Hughes

This spittoon-shaped poem first appeared in New Masses, December 1926; reprinted in Fine Clothes to the Jew, 1927.



Al Young comments:

Reading in my late teens I Wonder As I Wander — Langston Hughes’ autobiographical follow-up to The Big Sea — I was enthralled and inspired by the tales he weaves of his travels throughout the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Europe, the USSR, Soviet Asia, and China.
One of Hughes’ lingering memoirs describes a voyage that he and 20 other African Americans took to Russia during the Great Depression to make a movie called Black and White. While his 1956 account of this episode does not match up with documents lately uncovered in the U.S. and in Russia, Hughes’ socio-romantic flashback lives on in imagination. This sunny picture invites us to peer into the faces of some amazingly contemporary-looking passengers, who made that fabled crossing: Langston Hughes with his friends aboard the Europa-Bremen, June 17, 1932. Seated front center from left to right are Louise Thompson Patterson and Dorothy West. On board ship was also Ralph Bunche, who was visiting Paris with Alain Locke.

Photograph courtesy of Yale University Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Hughes poses with neighborhood kids in the cramped, flowering confines of what they called “Our Block’s Childrens Garden” — and long before seed-leasing and genetic modification became commonplace.

Read the rest of this entry »

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (January 15, 1928 – April 4, 1968)

January 17th, 2015


“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Francis Miller / Life

Happy Birthday to You

Stevie © Liam Yeates



‘Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did’ — HamdenRice


Photographer Gordon Parks’ Never-Before-Seen Pictures of 1950s USA Apartheid
(Huffington Post)

Shoes Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was only a teenager when he left his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas. The youngest of 15, Parks chose to make a living for himself after his mother passed away, and wound up becoming the first African American photographer for Life Magazine.

© Huffington


Selma Clickable

The political and historical issues in Selma (World Socialist Website)

Never Forget that Martin Luther King, Jr. Was Hated by White America (The Daily Kos)


‘The King We Need’
Charles R. Johnson
(Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time)

Dr. King's Fridge

Dr. King’s Refrigerator & Other Bedtime Stories


lbj & martin-luther-king-jr

President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Photo: Yoichi Okamoto/Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)

Tavis Smiley’s ‘DEATH OF A KING’




The biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael Ochs | Time | Getty Images

Born in Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. moved to Montgomery, AL, with his new wife Coretta in 1955 after King accepted a position as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. King met Coretta while he was studying for his Ph.D. at Boston University and they were married in June 1953. Yolanda, their first child, above, was born in November 1955.

© Gene Herrick/AP

Coretta Scott King welcomes her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he leaves a courtroom in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 22, 1956

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Photo circa 1964 – Herman Hiller, New York World-Telegram & Sun – Released into the public domain by the original copyright owner

President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the White House, March 1966

(Photo: Yoichi Okamoto/Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)



Audiobook available

Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

This post features a KPFA Pacifica audio and transcript of the full, lesser known sermon delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, April 30, 1967
The text and audio of “Beyond Vietnam,” the widely circulated sermon of April 4, 1967 (delivered at Riverside Church, NYC), may be viewed here at a link to Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr.Papers Project


MARK BALDRIDGE (1948 – 2014)

January 14th, 2015


markbaldridge Baldridge Family photo

Mark Baldridge

The man behind the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival: Mark Baldridge, 1948-2014

By Sharon Coleman

For decades, Berkeley has been enriched by a vibrant literary community with poetry at its heart, as we see in downtown Berkeley’s Addison Street Poetry Walk. At the heart of the poetry community since 1972 has been Poetry Flash, a hub for reviews, articles, event listings, and presenter of many singular literary events. And at the heart of Poetry Flash since 1995 has been Mark Baldridge, in so many capacities from board member to web master, but most notably as Director of the annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival.

When Robert Hass was named first U. S. Poet Laureate from the West in 1995, he joined in meetings at International Rivers Network with poets and ecologists to discuss “Nature and the American Imagination,” the theme of his laureateship, and to think of ways to engage the public using poetry. Having left a corporate career and started his own small advertising agency, hungry to do something real, Mark attended these meetings. From the discussions came the idea for the first Watershed Festival that took place in April 1996 at the Bandshell of Golden Gate Park.

Over a thousand people attended to hear poets Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and others. With Joyce Jenkins, editor and publisher of Poetry Flash, Mark wrote a major grant to the Creative Work Fund for “Down to Earth: Fifty-foot Rubbing Panels.” These were wooden panels carved in bas-relief by New Zealand artist Shane Eagleton that people could place paper over and make a rubbing. On them were designs, embedded driftwood, and a poem by Robert Hass. The grant came through, and the panels were unveiled at the Festival along with a sculpture, also by Eagleton, of a life-size humpback whale and baby whale carved from a single storm-salvaged redwood log. Joining the big poets on the stage were many children also sharing their poetry. It was huge and magical. And became an annual event

arrow wee

 Go to the Berkeleyside original
to read this obituary in full

© 2015 by Sharon Coleman/Berkeleyside



At Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, CA (2008), poet Joyce Jenkins — in the musical company of her partner Mark Baldridge, a feeling flautist — reads from Joy Road and other recent work. |  Photo: Al Young

“Boom! Just Like That!”
Al Young’s memorial poem
for Mark Baldridge


A 2015 Overhaul for AlYoung.Org

January 4th, 2015



Al @ Carole Harris Studio Detroit 2014

Photo; Melba Boyd

Gradually, here in 2015, you’ll watch an updated version of AlYoung.Org unfold at this very link.

It’s about time, don’t you think? 


DMQ REVIEW | Autumn 2014 | Sally Ashton, Editor

January 2nd, 2015



DMQ Fall 2014

Featured Poet

Marge Piercy


From the Ether    Sally Ashton, Editor-In-Chief

From the Archives    Tracy Brimhall, May 2007 Issue

Visuals by
Audrey Heller

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Guidelines          Staff          Archives          Cover

 Sally Ashton Los Gatos

Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County Emerita, Sally Ashton,
at the release of the
anthology, Song of Los Gatos: Poems of the Gem City, edited by Parthenia Hicks.

The DMQ Review is pleased to announce the release of the Fall 2014 issue featuring the poetry of Arlene Ang, John Davis, Amorak Huey, Kasia Juno, Lillian Kwok, Simone Muench/Dear Rader, Matt W. Miller, Tanya Muzumdar, Wendy Neale, Katherine Riegel, T.J. Sandella, and Rebecca van Laer, with artwork by Audrey Heller.

In collaboration with Peter Davis, editor of Poet’s Bookshelf: Contemporary Poets On Books That Shaped Their Art, Volumes I & II, the DMQ Review is also pleased to present the Bookshelf essay of Marge Piercy as our “Featured Poet.”