The Big Sea: An Autobiography (American Century Series)

By Langston Hughes

Introduction via Arnold Rampersad.

Langston Hughes, born in 1902, got here of age early within the Twenties. In The sizeable Sea he recounts these memorable years within the nice playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he used to be a prepare dinner and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was once a emerging younger poet--at the heart of the "Harlem Renaissance."

Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new creation to The large Sea, an American vintage: "This is American writing at its best--simpler than Hemingway; as uncomplicated and direct as that of one other Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."

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Additionally I met Zora Hurston and Eric Walrond, who have been one of the prize winners in different fields. James Weldon Johnson learn my poem aloud to the assemblage in awarding me the prize. And after the ceremonial dinner was once over, Carl Van Vechten got here as much as congratulate me. It used to be the 1st time I had visible him due to the fact that being brought to him on the N. A. A. C. P. gain social gathering in Harlem, yet he remembered me, and requested if I had sufficient poems by way of now to make a booklet. I advised him i assumed I had, so he requested me to ship them to him to learn. whilst I received again to Washington, I quickly despatched Mr. Van Vechten my poems. He wrote announcing that he cherished them, and requested permission to publish my manuscript to his publishers, Alfred A. Knopf. and soon there got here a letter from Blanche Knopf, asserting my poems have been to be approved for booklet. I known as the publication The Weary Blues. whilst i used to be bored with resting after the Wardman Park, I acquired a role at a fish and oyster apartment in downtown Washington. (I continuously beloved jobs in areas the place you consume. ) I wore a tall white cap like Bruce’s, and that i stood in the back of a counter twelve hours an afternoon, making oyster stews and oyster cocktails to reserve. My first week there I ate such a lot of oysters myself that I broke out in all places in an oyster rash. Now that I had received a prize, i started to fulfill the entire different younger coloured poets in Washington. Georgia Douglas Johnson, a captivating lady poet, who had sons in collage, became her apartment right into a salon for us on Saturday nights. Marietta Bonner, Dutton Ferguson, Esther Popel, Richard Bruce Nugent, Mae Miller, Lewis Alexander, John P. Davis, Willis Richardson, Hallie Queen, and Clarissa Scott used to return there to devour Mrs. Johnson’s cake and drink her wine and speak poetry and books and performs. occasionally Alain Locke might drop in, too. And that 12 months I met Angelina Grimke. My years in Washington have been unsatisfied years, aside from poetry and the buddies I made via poetry. I wrote many poems. I consistently placed them away new for numerous weeks in a backside drawer. Then i might take them out and re-read them. in the event that they appeared undesirable, i'd throw them away. they'd all look sturdy while I wrote them and, often, undesirable whilst i might examine them back. So such a lot of them have been thrown away. The blues poems i might usually make up in my head and sing that allows you to paintings. (Except that i'll by no means hold a song. but if I sing to myself, i believe i'm making a song. ) One night, i used to be crossing Rock Creek Bridge, making a song a blues i used to be attempting to get correct earlier than I placed it down on paper. a guy passing at the contrary part of the bridge stopped, checked out me, then circled and lower around the roadway. He stated: “Son, what’s the problem? Are you in poor health? ” “No,” I acknowledged. “Just making a song. ” “I proposal you have been groaning,” he commented. “Sorry! ” And went his manner. So after that I by no means sang my verses aloud on the street any longer. it sounds as if Carl Van Vechten had spoken to Margaret Case approximately my paintings, so vainness reasonable received a few of my poems, the 1st I offered. And paid good for them. subsequent i feel the hot Republic and the Bookman obtained my paintings, sending assessments that have been small, yet encouraging.

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