Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Langston Hughes of Cuba

Nicolás Guillen of Cuba

Two black poets, from two different cultures, who speak two different languages, but inspired by the same passion, which influenced world-class poetry on the same issues. Nicolás Guillen of Cuba (above) and Langston Hughes of the USA (below). Langston Hughes and Nicolas Guillen were both born in 1902. Both are of African decent, and both came from families committed to social change. They made the struggle for social justice for blacks and the oppressed their guiding principle in life and the inspiration for their poetry.

Langston Huhes, born in Joplin MO, and a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance.

In March of 1930 Nicolás Guillen interviewed Langston Hughes for an article in a Cuban publication where he was quoted as saying, I live among my people; I love them; the blows they get hurt me to the core, and I sing their sorrows, I express their sadness, I put their anxieties to flight.

In the 1920s, when Afro-Cuban sounds and instruments were changing the world of Cuban music, Afro-Cuban culture began to spread to the realms of art and literature. Initially, Afro-Cuban poetry, or “negrista” poetry, was mainly published by white Cubans. It wasn’t until the 1930s when Guillén would appeal to the literary society by giving an accurate personal account of the struggles, dreams, and mannerisms in the Afro-Cuban community

Guillén is probably the best-known representative of the "poesía negra" (black poetry). His most famous works include Motivos de son, Sóngoro Cosongo, West Indies, Ltd., Cantos para soldados, and La paloma de vuelo popular: Elegías.

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