Kevin Young celebrates the achievement of Langston Hughes' 1926 debut, The Weary Blues.
Hughes was in fact the first to write poetry in the blues form. He was the first to realize the blues are plural—to see in their complicated irony and earthy tone the potential to present a folk feeling both tragic and comic, one uniquely African American, which is to say, American. The blues made romance modern; modernism borrowed from the blues a new way of saying what it saw: Hughes made the blues his own, and ours too.Lynell George agrees:
Hughes wasn't just a voice for "Negro America," but an ear—one finely tuned and sensitive—trained on some of the country's most remote and forgotten corners. For five decades, he listened: recording the rhythms, reach and richness of the black experience with the dedication of an anthropologist and the nuanced rendering of an artist. His prose and poetry were the formal spaces— a stage—where black people across the social strata could speak frankly about racial injustice, economic inequity and strategies for uplift.