The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad, 3/5

I know of no other poet who offers as much variety as Langston Hughes.  His style ranges from elegantly traditional to vernacular, he writes about everything from music to politics, and the quality of his work spans from art to propagandist crap. In this large book, there were a handful of poems that I loved, many, many more that I appreciated, and dozens that seemed clumsy, preachy, sensationalistic, Communistic and agenda-driven. Hughes used his poetry very practically to fight against racism and other issues of the day (1920s-1960s), but there is a line at which art becomes propaganda which I think he frequently crossed.  While I respect him for using his considerable talents in the causes of equality and justice, that doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading poetry that is tied up in politics and emotionally manipulative propaganda.


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