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The Collected Poems

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Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America--and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman.  Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.

Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.  Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

736 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 1994

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About the author

Langston Hughes

343 books1,863 followers
Through poetry, prose, and drama, American writer James Langston Hughes made important contributions to the Harlem renaissance; his best-known works include Weary Blues (1926) and The Ways of White Folks (1934).

People best know this social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist James Mercer Langston Hughes, one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry, for his famous written work about the period, when "Harlem was in vogue."


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5 stars
9,327 (53%)
4 stars
5,508 (31%)
3 stars
2,152 (12%)
2 stars
318 (1%)
1 star
128 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 288 reviews
Profile Image for Charity.
8 reviews3 followers
February 27, 2010
I am insanely in love with Langston Hughes' poetry. My favorite:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
Profile Image for Madeline.
771 reviews47k followers
May 8, 2010
Awesome and passionate and stirring and lovely, all in ways a 21st century Midwestern white girl probably isn't fully qualified to appreciate.


That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes."

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human rivers
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers."


I sat there singing her
Songs in the dark.

She said;
'I do not understand
The words'.

I said;
'There are
No words'."

Read for: Modern Poetry
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,836 reviews1,343 followers
January 17, 2022
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.

True enough, most collections are a mixed effort. The Collected of anything tends to vary. The rank and file become hit and miss. Hughes won't be one of my favorite poets, but he is a powerful one. Many are in the form of a musical verse, perhaps plucked from a blues. Many are in dialect. Echoes of Whitman and the cadence of the pulpit can be detected.

The people often hold
Great thoughts in their deepest hearts
And sometimes only blunderingly express them,
Haltingly and stumbling say them,
And faultily put them into practice.

The contradictions of the black experience in the Land of the Free isn't lost on the poet. The war against Hitler only magnified this hypocrisy. A segregated army was sent to fight against a racist foe. There are homages to Stalingrad. there are despairing moments of poverty and loss. Heartbreak is a common theme.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Winter Sophia Rose.
2,208 reviews10 followers
August 5, 2016
Insightful, Timeless, Heartfelt, Realistic & Compelling! A Powerful & Beautiful Read! I Loved It!
Profile Image for Jelinas.
173 reviews16 followers
October 22, 2009
When I’ve seen someone do something really well, it often inspires me to try it for myself – especially as it pertains to writing. When I read a really good book, it makes me want to write fiction. When I hear a really good performance, it makes me want to write songs.

And after reading The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, I want to write poetry so badly that all of my thoughts have been forming in blank verse for days.

I first discovered Langston Hughes in high school. I was part of our school’s Academic Challenge Bowl team (yes, it’s even nerdier than it sounds) and one of my assignments was to read through this fat anthology of American Literature. The book had a section on the Harlem Renaissance. For the most part, I felt like a poser whilst reading it – I hadn’t really experienced the oppression or suffering in my fourteen years of life that Arna Bontemps and Claude McKay were describing. It made me vaguely uncomfortable to try to understand – how could I, an Asian teen living in the mostly-Caucasian suburbs and attending a predominantly Hispanic school, understand the woes and triumphs of a black man fighting for human rights in 1920s Harlem?

But then I got to Hughes.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


I knew what it meant to have a dream deferred. In some ways, a dream deferred is worse than a dream completely crushed. When a dream is crushed, you can let it go and start to heal. But a dream deferred leaves you with hope, leaves you hanging on. Sometimes you think you’ll never heal. And the reactions to this situation can vary from day to day. You might be angry one day, despondent the next, okay with it a few days later, and then back to anger by the end of the week.

Langston Hughes understood it. And I understood Langston Hughes. And, suddenly, I felt like I could read Bontemps and McKay and understand them, too.

I started picking up all the Hughes I could get my hands on. I haunted the library that summer, looking for poems I’d skipped over. I didn’t care much for poetry at that point in my life, but reading Hughes changed that almost instantly. Suddenly, I loved the lyrical quality that separates poetry from prose.

So when I ran into this book at Barnes and Noble a few years back, I just had to get it.

And I’ve been slowly reading through it ever since, savoring the verse and the rhythm and the words.

Hughes writes about a rainbow of topics, not all of them serious. He writes about love, freedom, poverty, oppression, beauty, pain – and every other shade of life experience you can imagine.

He’s famous for his contribution to the Harlem Renaissance, but his work transcends the movement. Hughes is relatable. He took his specific suffering and sees in it the thing that connects us all – humanity. He had a gift for showing you that glint of commonness amongst all the differences.

But Langston Hughes didn’t just write about the plight of the black man. I love that this volume includes his verses for children – fanciful verse, without a trace of the fire and sorrow that surge through so many of his poems for adults.

Through the course of reading this book, Langston Hughes has been cemented in his position as my favorite poet. He expresses so perfectly the gamut of the life experience. He understood it. And when I read him, I can, too.
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,176 reviews1,045 followers
April 6, 2014
To my shame, I'd never heard of Langston Hughes before this year (don't judge me too harshly; I bet you've never heard of Witi Ihimaera). It's kind of bleedin' obvious, but wow, amazing!

I didn't like the actual book too much; the binding was poor and quite a few pages popped out, and I didn't like the font, or some of the section title page layouts. The four stars reflects very much my rating of this particular physical book, not the poetry. Which is a ten. I'd recommend buying a different edition.
Profile Image for Casey.
558 reviews26 followers
August 3, 2022
Very good collection, showing his poems through changing times. I especially liked the "Poetry for Children" in Appendix 2. His range was wide and there were no typical poems, but I selected this short one as an example:

Poem to Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam
With old Jim Crow --
Like a shadow
Right behind you --
You go.

Uncle Sam,
Why don't you
Turn around,
And before you
Tackle Hitler --
Shoot Jim down?
Profile Image for Heider Broisler.
Author 8 books14 followers
March 21, 2022
Great book. Hughes tells of the hardships and lives of average Black people. He is exquisite is his representation of Afro-American life in the modern world — a great poet with a fine-tuned social consciousness.
Profile Image for Mo.
18 reviews
January 22, 2008
The wisdom by which I govern my life, I find in the poetry of Langston Hughes. Beyond color, beyond era, this man sings a song of life which is in harmony with the music of my thoughts: it pulls me through the day-to-day drudgery, it whips me from my laziness and sadness, it ignites my rage against inhumanity, it laughs with my joy, and it shows me how to celebrate a life in all of its moments.
Each of us has a poet or poetry that will speak to us if we allow it to. So much of it seems incomprehensible and boring, but only because one does not feel any connection with the author, the words, the meaning. Hughes is my poet. Find him or find your own, but do yourself the favor of discovering that sweet song that blends with your own internal music.

Profile Image for Emilie Frechie.
36 reviews4 followers
July 16, 2008
When I teach American Lit., and more specifically the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes resonates with students more than any other. He has the ability to define the American identity, particularly for young readers, in a focused way that is unmatched. I had a student in one of my most challenging classes ever, raise his hand and say that he thought that the issues with violence in the inner city were just the "explosion or collision" of so many generations of "deferred dreams." The class fell silent that day, and does every day that I recount that insight to other classes.
Profile Image for Marc Kohlman.
167 reviews13 followers
February 25, 2015
An unsurpassed collection of poems full of breathtaking beauty, dazzling use of music, majestic pride and celebration of the human spirit! I read the book as part of a course I took on Langston Hughes work from August to December of last year. Now that I have finished college, I can finally write this review. The poems explore the complexity of Hughes own character and the events of his own time. What really struck me about the poems was how they centered on an array of different subjects and are able to look beyond their own time forecasting what we will face in ours. The incredible life-span story of Hughes and the experiences which inspired many of his famous poems also was interesting to me. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is one of my favorites of Hughes poems because of its collective representation, the separation of the individual with "My" and its message of survival and perseverance. The poem was also significant to me as a Mulatto person through the nostalgic, reverent, unifying and historical pride at the heart of it. I loved how Hughes really chronicled the history of Africa's roots through the rivers that have played roles in the story of African peoples journey from their homeland to the USA. "The Weary Blues" is lyrical with alliteration, rhyme, couplets and slam rhymes most effective. The uses of Standard American English and Blues language was also interesting. Under the surface of the depressive shroud of the poem, it carries the theme of moving forward and never give in to depression and hardship. This poem certainly painted the picture of the constant stress Hughes needed to shake off but cannot escape. The poem "Laughers" is amazing because it addresses the struggles of the common working African-American person. The appreciation of peoples culture past and present struck a chord with me and how each person has their own line in a sort of envelope structure. It was interesting how dancers, singers and laughers are indented twice. The poem provides a Blue Collar mentality in African-American culture, which is quite Geo-political. Two other poems from this collection that I liked were "The Negro" and "My People." The nature and labor-based imagery of those two are intriguing. They show how African-Americans laugh at Fate when an outside voice asks them why they are laughing. The poem has a proud tone to it. While Fate has the control in the end, "Loud Laughers" African-Americans make their own destiny whereas with the "Loud-Mouthed" it is out of their hands. "Prayer" is a brief rhetorical poem that addresses theological questions to God and answers them- which I think speaks volumes. it covers a huge religious scope with its tone transitions, confusion and decisiveness in a despondent way. Poems such as "Jazz Band in a Parisian Cabaret" illustrates the Jazz influence to a number of Hughes late poems as it switches between different languages, club atmosphere and romantic words. it is a very internationally generated poem. Another of Hughes poems that I enjoyed was "Midwinter Blues" with the use of a single verse sung only once, change in chord and singing in different lines. The tight rhyme scheme was well used too. Dialect is barely used in this poem in the romantic conflict with the female speaker, influenced by Blues culture. The poems in "Fields of Wonder" are both spectacular with their unparalleled language and awesome power. They address important topics ranging from pain, suffering, death, natural seasons and expression of feeling. The poems are universal and lyrical through Hughes use of music and exclusion of racial and political arguments. The movement, ambivalence and emphasis placed on the self makes the poems in that collection rousing. The poem "One Way Ticket" in contrast is optimistic, a welcome transition from the apparent dreariness in "Fields of Wonder." I liked the poem particularly for its movement, conversational dialogue and expression of feeling which Hughes often holds back in most of his writings. It is simple and direct on stereotypical subjects using humor, rhythm and Blues. "Ode to Dinah" I liked for its use of non-natural imagery, flow and the "quarter of time" symbolized by a coin. It focuses on Communism and economics very clearly. Following this poem, "Blues In Stereo" also refers to time, referring to an ancient river and using natural elements in contrast to its predecessor. Its representation of poor people living in the wild as "savage" is very flat out as well as its allusion to Colonialism. The poem is a pleasurably messy one indeed. "Horn of Plenty" was sarcastic as it played on the African-American stereotypes. The poem even called integration a joke and represents the disparity between economics and class using $ and cents signs, It certainly addresses what is not wisely invested in and has yet to change, which are major issues in societies today. Hughes "Gospel Cha-cha" impressed me with its references to Afro-Haitian Voodoo religion, its heavy use of gospel music, natural imagery related to it as well as economics. "Is it True" is another poem that contains different cultural influences, particularly with Spanish language. While the poem is silent and briefly uses music, it addresses the voices that are not listened to, triumph over difficulty and African-American folk culture that is not recorded. "Ask Your Mama"I thought was amazing with its references to different street addresses, swift movement and singularity. The poem raises the question" Why speak a lesser language when you have more elegant ones? Its main assertion is the heart of the African-American community still beats strongly. The metaphor of Martin Luther as a Unicorn was interesting and the phrase repetitions of the poem drove it forward. "Bird in Orbit" encompassed similar details to "Ask Your Mama". "Jazzet Muted" spoke to me through its sense of loss, image of fire, darkness and the oppression of African-Americans. Hughes really expresses the anger let loose in the Juke Joint and Harlem club settings. "Quarter of the Negroes" is a poem immersed in music with African drums, piano, maracas and gospel references. The usage and mentions of foreign languages and countries certainly was cool along with popular cultural and political figures from Jazz artists, writers, revolutionaries to elected African presidents. "Ride, Red, Ride" used many of the same features but raised the question of how does a movement/change happen? "Shades of Pigmeat", a more comedic poem, turned negative facts positive while it addresses stereotypes and racial persecution through Hughes effective use of Satire. The poems of Hughes final book "The Panther & the Lash" while they seem like a less hopeful collection centers on the Civil Rights Movement and also Dope addiction. It represents the marginalization of the African-American population and impatience to see progress happen. Politically, Hughes last volume of poems is effective and while the tone is more militant, the poems contributed to the momentum of the Black Freedom Movement. This collection of Langston Hughes poems is a marvelous one, bringing together all of the pieces by one of the most renowned poets in American history. If you are not familiar with Hughes work, this book is a must-read for all people. The poems messages transcend nation, experience and circumstances.
Profile Image for Shayana.
6 reviews3 followers
October 6, 2009
Have you ever read something that made your face frown and made you think-what?! Well the poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes did that exact thing to me. As I read this poem our face turned upside down. The struggle of the poem is the best. It was that the mother's life was really rough, she didn't want her son to go through what she went through.The Imagery, Man ! the imagery used in the poem is the common imagery that is used in everyday life. However, not thought about in that same way. This poem is realistic. We can picture most of the things that are in "Mother to Son". These are some reasons why you can like this poem but there are many more !

The imagery in the poem is really outstanding , but you may not catch it as soon you read it. That's how good it is! The usage of it is normal but you have to think outside of the box to get it. Whenever you see imagery you see everyone use commonly. Also this way is common but used in a different way. Most would understand. "Don't you set down on the steps", as the mother says. You may think she is talking about the stairs we walk on but she explains the trials and tribulations of being alive. Which means the ways of living life as in happiness and or the struggle. In this specific poem, you can find alot of struggle.

As we mentioned in the paragraph above, struggle can be found alot in this poem. She had alot of problems she has been put through , but is trying to let her son know that life isn't always happy and filled with joy. There are something that you are going to be scared to do and somethings that you are going to be able to get through. "Where there ain't no light. So, boy, don't you turn back." This phrase tells you that there can be nothing but you still do not give up on it ! Anything can be hard or can make you feel like you are strugling but you can not back down from it. Perserverance is the key word here! So you say you can acutally picture what she is saying ?!

Yes you can picture the way the mother explains herself . She makes it seem like you are in the poem, which makes it realistic. You can see that the mother is been put through alot and you can say that it realisitic because you can put yourself into her shoes. Once you can relate to something it has become realistic. This poem can relate to alot of people so you can call it realistic

So what some mother's can't relate to Mother to Son the thing about this poem someone can learn from it ! Being a mother and growing up, having a hard life of course you wouldn't want your child having to deal with the something. She wants her child to have a life that she couldn't enjoy. Most people still this day can relate to how realistic Mother to Son is, anybody's mom can sit their child down and tell their child how rough their life was, just imagine all the hard times your mom went through. Maybe not having any lunch money or having to wait months and months to get a new pair of sneakers, because their wasn't enough money in the house hold.

Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,320 reviews2,195 followers
December 31, 2022

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind
Of such I dream, my world!
Profile Image for Gayle Pitman.
Author 11 books59 followers
December 15, 2015
I'm someone who often has a hard time "getting" poetry. When I read Langston Hughes, particularly poems like "Dear Lovely Death," "Mother to Son," and "Memo to Non-White Peoples," I get it. I checked this book out of the library, and now I'm going to buy a copy. Some of these poems I'll read again and again.
Profile Image for Zoha Mortazavi.
105 reviews11 followers
April 3, 2022
لنگستن هیوز، شاعر مهم جریان هارلم با ترجمه‌های شاملو در ایران معروف شد. داستان نویس مهمی هم هست. دیدم که مثلا حسین علیشیری مجموعه کامل اشعارش را ترجمه کرده. این ور و آن ور هم ترجمه‌هایی هست مثلا ترجمه تورج یاراحمدی از اشعاری که لحن به نسبت غنایی تری دارند (با نام «تا باران بر تو بوسه زند». هیچکدام از ترجمه‌ها بجز شاملو در کودریدز فارسی نیست، یادم باشد اضافه کنم). برای من دوست داشتنی است در کل. (میگویند داستانهای خوبی هم نوشته است که البته من خیلی نخوانده‌ام متاسفانه).

"Here i sit
With my shoes mismatched.
I's frustrated!"

"It's such a bore
Being always poor."

"What happens to a dream deffered?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And the run?"
Profile Image for Kelsey Huse.
97 reviews3 followers
March 15, 2022
Wonderful collection of poetry covering the Great Migration, Jim Crow, WWII.
Profile Image for Sidik Fofana.
Author 2 books234 followers
June 7, 2022
SIX WORD REVIEW: Jazz, Africa, elegies of the slain.
Profile Image for Batya K..
19 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2020
Honestly English-language poetry reached its peak with Hughes, the rest of us should probably give up.
Profile Image for Daniel L..
249 reviews11 followers
July 25, 2013
A Towering Achievement, a Poet of the People

Langston Hughes has been called "the Shakespeare of Harlem." The quality of his poems are certainly worthy of comparison to the Bard's Sonnets. I would add one more nickname: "the Walt Whitman of Harlem." Langston Hughes, as other reviewers have stated, was also very much a poet of the people, not just African American but all Americans. Langston Hughes's poetry sheds a powerful light on the Black experience in all its complexities, from every perspective. This book is "must reading" for anyone wanting to learn more about the people and cultures of the United States, and its debt to people of African descent.

Included in this masterful anthology are essays on the life of Langston Hughes and his poetry. The primary poems are divided by decades; other work is included in three appendices. The first appendix comprises poems circulated by the Associated Negro Press but were never part of the general canon. The second appendix contains poetry for children, though readers interested in this area will want to acquire a copy of Hughes's "Black Misery." The third appendix includes additional poems attributed to Langston Hughes and whos authenticity has been confirmed since the first edition of the "Collected Poems of Langston Hughes."

My only complaint with this book is not with its contents but the flimsy soft cover. A more substantial cover is a necessity, for this is a book that I, like so many other people, turn to over and over again.

It is easy to take for granted how much of American culture has its roots in African-American culture, especially literature and music. If you are looking for an example of this notion, you have come to the right place. Langston Hughes's poetry is steeped in Jazz rhythms and social consciousness; it is, at the same time, an assertion of black civil rights and an astute observation of black (and, by extension, American) cultural awareness. In short, it is "must reading" for anyone with an interest in any of these areas.It's a big book, certainly not something one can devour in a single sitting. Then, again, one wouldn't want to; this is a collection of poems to savor and reflect upon.
Profile Image for Stephen.
30 reviews
April 11, 2013
How did I make it to my 58th year without reading Langston Hughes? This was a fascinating and exhilarating journey through someone else's eyes. Hughes led a life that took him through much of the turbulence of the 20th century--his race and his intellect combining to keep him an outsider in many waysto both white and black cultures of the day. He wrote evocatively of the Harlem he knew and the jazz that he loves using language and themes that bring you into that scene as few others have. His early work is powerful stuff, the middle era (marked by an anger and bitterness which propelled him towards Communism as an answer to the inequalities of American society) less so. His later years are marked by poems in a deeper and quieter, although no less insightful, analysis of race and the history of black Americans. Very highly recommended.
Profile Image for saïd.
5,870 reviews538 followers
December 8, 2021
Langston Hughes was one of the best anglophone poets ever.

Here's one of my favourites of his poems, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers":
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Profile Image for Mo the Lawyer✨.
151 reviews17 followers
March 15, 2023
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

~Langston Hughes, "Dream Deferred"

This poetry collection will always hold a very special place in my heart and on my primary bookshelf. Without a doubt, Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets of all time and one of my favorite Harlem Renaissance writers. This collection spans five decades and includes over 800 of Hughes's extraordinary poems.

This is a book that I often pull down from my bookshelf, flip to a random page and just indulge in reading. If you love poetry, I highly recommend this book for you.
Profile Image for Sadia Mansoor.
552 reviews104 followers
January 8, 2017
The struggle Blacks went through,
The rights Blacks were deprived of,
The pain, the humiliation, the slavery Blacks had to bear,
The patience Blacks had to endure,
The suffering & injustice Blacks had to live with . . .

All in all was perfectly pictured by Hughes' poetry (Y)
This is one of the best collection of poems for understanding Black Literature
Profile Image for Angèle.
23 reviews10 followers
August 29, 2016
I studied Langston Huges' poetry with my English teacher this year and I absolutely loved it!
I fell in love with his style of writing... so lovely
Profile Image for Austin Evans.
9 reviews
May 7, 2020
It would be seriously remiss if middle schoolers were not exposed to the poetry of Langston Hughes at some point during their middle education. There are many brilliant gems in this collection of poems but one of the poems I would have my students read is as follows:
"I loved my friend/ He went away from me./ There’s nothing more to say./ The poem ends,/ Soft as it began-- / I loved my friend."
The elegantly beautiful poem offers so much with so few words. It reveals the unspoken sentiments of loss while also leaving

Love and loss are certainly not strangers to each other. In order to love something, one has to put part of themselves in to it and there is always a risk of losing that investment. Middle schoolers are figuring this out as they reach out to and latch on to anything that will help them to ground their identity. Sometimes though, the friends they pour so much of themselves into stray away. What happens next is a turmoil, a void where love longs to be again. This emptiness, frustration, and pain, while perhaps never fully healed, can certainly be processed through the art of expression.

In order to give students the skills to use language as a tool for processing complex emotions like love and loss, I would have them first analyze and interpret Langston Hughes poem in groups. Their objective in these groups would be to conjecture why Mr. Hughes is feeling the way he is and what happened to his friend. After group discussion we would bring the topic to whole class discussion and hear the different theories. I would then introduce students to the six-word memoir as explained by Kelly Gallagher in Write Like This and have them write about a time they felt loss. By limiting the amount of words students would be compelled to choose only the most imperative and emotive words to get their meaning across, much like Langston Hughes did in his poem.
21 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2017
Looking at the poem, "Harlem," students will be able to see how figurative language can enhance a poet's voice. Hughes uses a great combination of imagery and similes to help describe when dreams are not acknowledge taking a special look at Harlem.
First read: I will read the poem to the students and they will read along silently.
Second read: They will use Beer's strategy: Sensory Key Code to find what sparks their five senses in this short poem. They will underline and make the appropriate sensory code beside the line.
Third read: students will make comments on what they notice that is new or something that is more clear to them after reading it again.
After this, students will think about a dream/goal that did not come true for them. They will write a poem incorporating similes and imagery into their poem just like Hughes's poem.
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