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Poets

Sunday 4/6/14 Show: The Jazz Poetry of Langston Hughees

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The next show will air on Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. During this installment, Suga’ in My Bowl sets off its celebration of National Poetry and Jazz Appreciation Month with a look at Langston Hughes. This week’s guest is Hughes biographer Arnold Rampersad. We will also take a quick look at a production of Hughes’ “Ask Your Mama” with Dr. Ron McCurdy, Professor of Music at the Thorton School of Music, University of Southern California.



Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902. After graduation from high school, he spent a year in Mexico with his father, then a year studying at Columbia University. His first poem in a nationally known magazine was “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which appeared in The Crisis magazine in 1921. In 1925, he was awarded the First Prize for Poetry of the magazine Opportunity, the winning poem being “The Weary Blues,” which gave its title to his first book of poems, published in 1926. As a result of his poetry, Mr. Hughes received a scholarship to the historically Black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he earned his B.A. in 1929. In 1943, he was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by his alma mater; he has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (1935), a Rosenwald Fellowship (1940), and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Grant (1947). From 1926 until his death in 1967, Langston Hughes devoted his time to writing and lecturing. He wrote poetry, short stories, autobiography, song lyrics, essays, humor, and plays. A cross section of his work was published in 1958 as The Langston Hughes Reader.

Dr. Rampersad’s 2-volume Hughes biography is considered the definitive work on the life and legacy of the great poet. Rampersad is an emeritus faculty member of Stanford University’s English Department and has written several critically acclaimed books, including biographical works on W.E.B. DuBois and Jackie Robinson.

Find out more information on Hughes on on the Langston Hughes Facebook page.

Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Show produced, engineered, edited, and hosted by Joyce Jones.

Web Extras:

Read Langston Hughes’s 1926 essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”, calling for art that explicitly speaks to Black audiences and draws from cultural experiences and traditions. It was written in response to George Schuyler’s “The Negro Art Hokum”. The University of Illinois’s Langston Hughes page has lots more poems that can be read online.

Watch actor Malcolm Jamal Warner perform Hughes’s “12 Moods for Jazz” with the Ron McCurdy Jazz Quartet:



Watch the entire performance of Dr. Ron McCurdy’s multimedia Hughes show at Pasadena City College. Video is 73 minutes long.

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