Quirky Books: The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes

Published in 1932, "the Dream Keeper and Other Poems" is a wonderful collection of poems by an American Treasure.

Langston Hughes' father was a lawyer and his mother was a teacher. Following in his mother's steps he earned a college degree and worked as an instructor at Lincoln University. Born in 1902 he traveled the world and profoundly influenced history.

Demonstrating his loyalty to the South in the third and fourth sections, he uses a heavy twang in his blues poems. While interesting, it detracts from the over-all message of the poems. However, there is no doubting his skills as the majority of the poems follow strict formats with rhyming verses.

Langston Hughes is one of the contemporary forerunners in categorizing "free-verse" as an acceptable poetic format. Even in "the Dream Keeper," one of his earlier books, he strays from classical writing styles. The poem "Dream Variation" demonstrates how he stretches the boundaries. Notice the prominent rhyming scheme on the even lines, while the odd lines do not rhyme at all.

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.

Award winning artist Brian Pinkney illustrated the book. He has illustrated many books and earned a Master Degree of Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The style sculpts images on paper with wispy lines. The dramatic effect allows for a high degree of depth. Many illustrations have round borders. Occasionally the illustrations point to the next page; however, round borders anchor the artwork to the page creating an excitable steadiness.

Langston Hughes was a successful Afro-American in the early twentieth century. Wanting to share his joy and positive self-image with everyone he often refers to stars in the night sky as diamonds. A well written book I recommend it to everyone. Many of the messages are universal and relay a joyful sentiment. Few poems refer to Afro-America culture, such as: "Alabama Earth" and "Aunt Sue's Stories." Even in this context, he always promotes questioning the old ways and redefining yourself as an individual.

Poetry Breakdown
Autumn Thought by Langston Hughes
Point of View by Shel Silverstein

Quirky Books
Matchless by Gregory Maguire