Completely random in content and in schedule.

I am a: writer, academic, an assistant professor of English in a public university.

 

Mulatto by Langston Hughes

I, like many, came to Langston Hughes through his poetry. As a kid, the first poem we learned in school by him was “Dream Boogie.” What I learned next was either “Harlem” or “Mother to Son.” I remember learning about his poetry in music class, in English, in theater, in history. It was not until years later when I learned he, too, was a playwright. I read his short plays about Simple, a simple character, and in college, our small alternative arts group performed the one-act play Limitation of Life, a satire on the movie (and based on the Fannie Hurst novel) Imitations of Life. Later, I came to his nonfiction and his fiction. “On the Road” is my favorite Langston Hughes short story and tops the list of my favorite short stories by anyone.

As a kid, I hated Hughes’ voice. I thought he read too fast. I thought his timbre was of his time and outdated. Today, I love hearing him read. I’ve come to appreciate, in general, poets reading their own work, but I’ve also realized how much interpretation—of the reading (understanding)—Hughes puts into his work. Below is the transcript of his poem “Mulatto” and Mr. Hughes reading the work.

Mulatto | Langston Hughes

I am your son, white man!

Georgia dusk

And the turpentine woods.

One of the pillars of the temple fell.

You are my son!

Like Hell!

The moon over the turpentine woods.

The Southern night

Full of stars,

Great big yellow stars.

What’s a body but a toy?

Juicy bodies

Of nigger wenches

Blue black

Against black fences.

O, you little bastard boy,

What’s a body but a toy?

The scent of pine wood stings the soft night air.

What’s the body of your mother?

Silver moonlight everywhere.

What’s the body of your mother?

Sharp pine scent in the evening air.

A nigger night,

A nigger joy,

A little yellow

Bastard boy.

Naw, you ain’t my brother.

Niggers ain’t my brother.

Not ever.

Niggers ain’t my brother.

The Southern night is full of stars,

Great big yellow stars.

O, sweet as earth,

Dusk dark bodies

Give sweet birth

To little yellow bastard boys.

Git on back there in the night,

You ain’t white

The bright stars scatter everywhere.

Pine wood scent in the evening air.

A nigger night,

A nigger joy.

I am your son, white man!

A little yellow

Bastard boy.