of course, had no big floor shows or a name band like the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington usually held forth, so, without black patronage, they were not amusing at all. Some, like James Baldwin, were downright malicious about his poetic achievement. Hughes differed from most of his predecessors among black poets, and (until recently) from those who followed him as well, in that he addressed his poetry to the people, specifically to black people. Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people. Black on White: A Critical Survey of Writing by American Negroes: "On the whole, Hughes' creative life was as full, as varied, and as original as Picasso's, a joyful, honest monument of a career. I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen. The elder Hughes came to feel a deep dislike and revulsion for other American blacks.) In Hughes's own words, his poetry is about "workers, roustabouts, and singers, and job hunters on Lenox Avenue in New York, or Seventh Street in Washington or South State. Then he said: Wont you come? For several years they packed the expensive Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue. The Negro critics and many of the intellectuals were very sensitive about their race in books.
Langston Hughes Poetry Foundation
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David Littlejohn wrote that Hughes is "the one sure Negro classic, more certain of permanence than even Baldwin or Ellison or Wright. Langston, my aunt sobbed. But most of these quickly lost business and folded up, because they failed to realize that a large part of the Harlem attraction for downtown New Yorkers lay in simply watching the colored customers amuse themselves. Amsterdam News was, langston hughesthe sewer dweller. But I did not see how they could expect every Negro author to write such books. Hughes reached many people through his popular fictional character, Jesse. One critic identifies the opening lines of the poem as illustrative.E.B.
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