The definitive sampling of a writer whose poems were “at the forefront of the Harlem Renaissance and of modernism itself, and today are fundamentals of American culture” (OPRAH Magazine).
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. 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.
The collection spans five decades, and is comprised of 868 poems (nearly 300 of which never before appeared in book form) with annotations 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 Hughes's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.
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 published in a nationally known magazine was “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which appeared in Crisis in 1921. In 1925, he was awarded the First Prize for Poetry from the magazine Opportunity for “The Weary Blues,” which gave its title to his first book of poems, published in 1926. Hughes received his B.A. from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1929. In 1943, he was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by his alma mater; during his lifetime, he was also 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, 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; a Selected Poems first appeared in 1959 and a Collected Poems in 1994. Today, his many works and his contribution to American letters continue to be cherished and celebrated around the world.
“Langston Hughes is a titanic figure in 20th-century American literature . . . a powerful interpreter of the American experience.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music. This book is a glorious revelation." —Boston Globe