According to Hutchinson, the Harlem Renaissance in literature was never a cohesive movement. It was, rather, a product of overlapping social and intellectual circles, parallel developments, intersecting groups, and competing visions- yet all loosely bound together by a desire for racial self-assertion and self-definition in the face of white supremacy. The interplay between intense conflict and a sense of being a part of a collective project identified by race is what energized the movement.
I will be talking about the underside or complex predicament of the Harlem Renaissance- and how that is depicted in the poetry of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay.
I will pick up from Alain Locke’s description of the New Negro (as the authors of the Harlem Renaissance were considered as representatives the “New Negro”)- for him there were two negroes-the poor black masses changing the geography of American citizenship, and the young black writer reflecting that energy in literature. What brought the educated writer and uneducated migrants together was their sense of isolation in segregated…show more content… His use of vernacular in his blues and church based poems is equally significant. In addition to claiming the agency and artistry of black music, his poems in the vernacular reclaim black English from the dialect tradition, presenting black voices fully capable of expressing the range and depth of their humanity. The poem “mother to son” best illustrates this:the poem represents a fully realized black subject replete with ocomplex dimensions including tenacity, endurance, sorrow, love, pride, and a compelling sense of hope for her son.
Finally, Langston Hughes reclaimed dialect, invented jazz poetry, and celebrated the blues, all in service to a broader, deeper, and more complex rendering of African American