So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating Poetry this month

I don't know if it was because I grew up in the segregated south, but I did not know about the poet Langston Hughes until about ten years ago.

I bought some books and read his work and realized he was a poet with much to write about. I often find myself picking up one of his books and reading this man's poetry.

His parents divorced when he was a child and he was raised by his grandmother until he was 13. Then he went to live with his mother and  stepfather.
In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D. C. Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, (Knopf, 1926) was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, (Knopf, 1930) won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

I like this poem. 

Mother to Son 
                Langston Hughes (1922)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

What a beautiful message of encouragement from a mother to her son. Her life was as hard as life could be but she would not put up with a son who gave up when life got tough.


  1. I recently read a collection of Langston Hughes' poems which I'll review on my blog a week from Tuesday along with other books I read this month. You can check out my blog at .

  2. Wonderful poem Glenda, thank you! Langston Hughes was very widely read and quoted in New York City when I was growing up in the 50's.

  3. Thank you, Eva, for reading my blog. I'm sure he was widely read but not in my school. I enjoy reading his work now.

  4. Thanks, Glenda, for introducing us to the poetry of Langston Hughes. I had not heard of this poet, but will check out his work now. This poem your posted by him was powerful!

  5. Thanks, Glenda. It was most informative about Langston Hughes. I loved the poem. And Wynken, Blynkyn is one of the best lullabies ever!

    Joan Howard

  6. Thank you, Brenda and Joan, for reading my blog. I'm glad you met a new poet and enjoyed the poetry.


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