Written by Art Is Essential

Art Is Essential vol. 5

Writers on the art that matters to them.

Thank You Langston Hughes

Edith Knight Magak

Last night, a man made me laugh. The sound coming from my throat caught me by surprise; then I realized that very few things have me laugh these past few months. This man, Langston Hughes, was telling me about 50-50 in his selected poems. I was caught up in big boys flirting and was looking forward to the happily ever after until he said to share not only the bed but “your money, too.”

Langston Hughes has been staying up with me on nights when I can’t sleep, and on days when I can’t work. With the television now being an object of fear, what with all its depressing news, and with nowhere to go, Langston has taken me to the feet of Jesus where we have prophesied and prayed, chanted and shouted, danced with tambourines until fire fell.

On days when I can’t find the energy to get out of bed, he has told me about hope and joy, and we have traveled to the deep blue seas, visited islands, and gone to port town where we have met sailors; he has has told me about the ballad of the fortune teller, and together we have sung for Billie Holiday. 

We have had our tears, too; I cried the other day when he told me why nobody loves a genius child. I thought my heart was going to tear from the young gal’s blues. The American heartbreak, and cries of Negroes have made me tremble, and death; he didn’t mince his words, let me know fair and square that death was coming. When he saw my terror, he reminded me that, “Life is fine! As fine as wine!”

When I count the things that I am grateful for right now, among them, I count the selected poems of Langston Hughes.

Edith Knight Magak is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya.

Langston Hughes was born in 1902 (died 1967) in Joplin, Missouri. His first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published in 1926 by Alfred K. Knopf. Hughes published 16 volumes of poetry, 3 short story collections, 20 plays, and more.

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