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Langston Hughes

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Few poets in the twentieth century, and perhaps even in any century, can be compared to Langston Hughes. Hughes wrote with his heart and soul, creating poems that everyone could understand. He expressed love for all races, colors, and religions and did not judge anybody until he had reason to judge them. He wrote to entertain, to inspire, to teach, and to make a point. His way with words made him the most popular and prolific black writer of the twentieth century (Offinoski, 32).

Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902. He was born into a black family of abolitionists and his parents were both bookkeepers. When Hughes was young his parents separated, causing his father to move to Mexico and his mother to leave him for quite a while in search of a steady job. Hughes could never call a place ?home? for too long because he was always moving from one place to another or living with different family members and friends. This constant movement affected his writing because he learned about many different people and life styles from the places he lived.

Hughes started writing poetry in high school, but the major turning point in his poetic career was when he was working as a bus boy in Washington, D.C. A very famous critic, Vachel Lindsay, was at the place that Hughes worked. Hughes had always admired him and looked up to him, but he was too timid to confront him. Instead, he ran up to Lindsay, gave him a few poems that he had written, and ran away without saying anything. The next day Hughes was bombarded by reporters because Lindsay had published his poems in the paper. Since Lindsay had not known his name, he had received the name ?bus boy poet? in the paper. That was the jump start of Hughes?s career.

In 1919 and...

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Modern American Literature G-O. Curley, Dorothy Nyren, Maurice Kramer, and Elaine Fialka Kramer. Vol. 2. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co. Inc., 1969.

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