Today is the beginning of Black History Month. It is also the birthday of one of our greatest modern American poets, Langston Hughes. Here is a link to a moving opinion piece in today’s New York Times, in which author and activist Renée Watson recalls the profound effect that reading Hughes’s poetry had on her as a child and young adult. Watson is the author of several critically acclaimed works for young people about the African-American experience.
Hughes himself was the author of works for children, including poetry, history, and the wonderful novel coauthored with Arna Bontemps, Popo and Fifina (unfortunately out of print). Hughes has also been the subject of numerous biographies, including picture books, for children, as well as collections of his poetry illustrated by Daniel Miyares, Benny Andrews, Charles R. Smith, Jr., and Bryan Collier, among others.
I will write about some of these inspiring works in the month ahead, but I don’t want to let the birthday of this legendary artist go by without bringing some of them to my readers’ attention.