(H) Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a literary movement that began in Harlem, New York during the 1920s. It celebrated black culture and was strongly influenced by jazz and blues.

The poet, Langston Hughes, is recognized as one of the key figures of the Harlem Renaissance. (Note: I featured his poem Juke Box Love Song on my blog in April 2015). Here is the poem “Out of Work” by Langston Hughes:

I walked de streets till
De shoes wore off my feet.
I done walked de streets till
De shoes wore off my feet.
Been lookin’ for a job
So’s that I could eat.
 
I couldn’t find no job
So I went to de WPA.
Couldn’t find no job
So I went to de WPA.
WPA man told me:
You got to live here a year and a day.
 
A year and a day, Lawd,
In this great big lonesome town!
A year and a day in this
Great big lonesome town!
I might starve for a year but
That extra day would get me down.
 
Did you ever try livin’
On two-bits minus two?
I say did you ever try livin’
On two-bits minus two?
Why don’t you try it, folks,
And see what it would do to you?

Read more about the Harlem Renaissance 1917-1935 at PBS.org

Find out about poetry a to z.

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