“Lenox Avenue: Midnight” — a poem by Langston Hughes

August 25th, 2015

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“Evening 9:10, 461 Lenox Avenue,” by Romare Bearden

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Lenox Avenue: Midnight

The rhythm of life
Is a jazz rhythm,
Honey.
The gods are laughing at us.

The broken heart of love,
The weary, weary heart of pain,-
Overtones,
Undertones,
To the rumble of street cars,
To the swish of rain.

Lenox Avenue,
Honey.
Midnight,
And the gods are laughing at us.

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Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that “the negro was in vogue” which was later paraphrased as “when Harlem was in vogue”. (Wikipedia)

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Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) was an American artist and writer who depicted African-American life. He worked with many types of media including cartoons, oils and collages. He began his artistic career creating scenes of the American South and his early work focused on unity and cooperation within the African-American community. After a period during the 1950s when he painted more abstractly, this theme reemerged in his collage works of the 1960s, when Bearden became a founding member of the Harlem-based art group known as The Spiral, formed to discuss the responsibility of the African-American artist in the struggle for civil rights.

Bearden was the author or coauthor of several books, and was a songwriter who co-wrote the jazz classic “Sea Breeze”, which was recorded by Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie. His lifelong support of young, emerging artists led him and his wife to create the Bearden Foundation to support young or emerging artists and scholars. In 1987, Bearden was awarded the National Medal of Arts. His work in collage led the New York Times to describe Bearden as “the nation’s foremost collagist” in his 1988 obituary. (Wikipedia)

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Langston Hughes reads his poem “Dreams”

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“Romare Bearden:  A Black Odyssey”

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Dizzy Gillespie Octet plays “Sea Breeze”

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The Art of Romare Bearden

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Harlem Night Club,” a poem by Langston Hughes

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