Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hughes Poetics

In rereading some of Hughes poetry, I particularly enjoyed his reflective pieces such as "Theme for English B" and and "Dream Deferred." There is so much emotional intensity to his work, and yet, his prose is asthetically very well crafted and brings out the cadences of African American culture and thought.

However, I noticed for the first time (?) more of a sardonic overtone than perhaps I had been aware of in the past. I tried to relate this concept directly to the theme of presenting the American voice as something "other" where the struggle to bring it into manifestation creates a voice that is at once articulate, well crafted, and yet hints at something...closed (I hope I'm using the right word) and even regretful or lonely? Since isolation/the divided self surfaces in the works of so many other modern writers, I don't think it surfaced as much with some of the previous poets we have read. With Hughes, however, there is a very acute sense of alienation and even dismay that comes through in his poetry.

What were anyone's thoughts of the essay in Poetics? I thought Hughes made some interesting points on the nature of artist in the larger community. While he seems to want to claim an authentic black voice for poets, I wondered if all artists and writers don't also struggle collectively to find that authentic voice? But I guess his point is that the struggle to find that voice is magnified in that context. I liked that he sought to reclaim and celebrate the uniqueness of that experience, but I wondered specifically if he was writing for a particular audience since it seemed very "oratory" and read much more (to my ears) like a persuasive speech rather than an essay. All in all, though, there were sparks of real beauty in his poems and I enjoyed reading them.

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