Sunday, April 17, 2011

Making Sense of Langston's Music

Maybe the biggest irony of the R& Hughes biography is how much ink is spilled describing his efforts at making musical theatrical performance on the one hand, and how little  is spent on his efforts making poetry.  We will only note today that this allure, this devilish temptation to walk away from poetry as such, is one of the most distinctive aspects of the Hughes career.  As we think of Hughes as a lifelong artist, we associate this with some powerful biographical tropes: crossover (and all of the big mojo that compound word carries on its back), money making (yes, yes), the mixing of sacred and profane, the lwas Mami Wata and Papa Legba, &c.

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