May 11, 2010

Jazz Poetry - "Dream Boogie"

Dream Boogie by Langston Hughes

Good morning, daddy!
Ain't you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?
Listen closely:
You'll hear their feet
Beating out and beating out a --
     You think
     It's a happy beat?
Listen to it closely:
Ain't you heard
something underneath
like a --
     What did I say?
     I'm happy!
     Take it away!
Hey, pop!

--From Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951)
Note: Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967) was an American poet, novelist, and playwright. He was one of the innovators of so-called jazz poetry in the 1920s and 1930s. Jazz poetry came to mean language with jazz-like rhythm or improvisational feel, although early versions just made reference to jazz musicians, instruments, and locations. During the 1920s, the simultaneous development of new forms of poetry and jazz bursting onto the scene resulted in a kind of merging of the two art forms. Poets such as Hughes, who was part of the Harlem Renaissance movement, incorporated jazz rhythms and repetitive phrases into their poetry. The descendants of jazz poetry include Beat poetry and even today's live poetry slams.

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