Multicultural - Diversity Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] Langston Hughes’ The Negro Speaks of Rivers

poetry friday

Myra here.

I am glad to join the Poetry Friday community this week, hosted by the beautiful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm.


As we continue to celebrate the Voices of the Silenced until the end of April, I am glad to find this gorgeously-illustrated compilation of Lansgton Hughes’ poetry from our library:


The editors did a fine job condensing Hughes’ history and making it accessible to young readers without watering the issues down in any way. The illustrations are gorgeous too with a slightly European vibe discerned in the thin elongated figures and lots of empty spaces for the eyes to rest. This week, I am sharing one of Langston Hughes’ trademark poems. The Negro Speaks of Rivers. I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app, but I also included the actual illustrated page from the book as an ode to Benny Andrews’ artwork.



Here is a Youtube clip of Langston Hughes’ reading his poem aloud. Enjoy, dear friends!

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

15 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Langston Hughes’ The Negro Speaks of Rivers

  1. Thank you for this, Myra! Hughes’s April Rain Song and the poem “I Loved My Friend” are two of my favorite poems and always include them in my poetry unit! I did not know this poem but am amazed at how he is able to capture feelings without using words. I loved the clip you included of him reading the poem. “My soul has grown deep like the rivers” – gives me goosebumps!


    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Adrienne. 🙂 I know about “I loved my friend” – so deeply moving, but I don’t think I’m familiar with his April Rain Song. Will look it up.


  2. The power of this poem moves me each time I read it. Thank you for today’s post and for this series – I look forward to coming back and reading some of your earlier posts. Happy Poetry Friday!


  3. Myra, this looks like such a lovely book! Langston Hughes’ river-deep words always get me, especially his poem “Mother to Son.” Thank you for sharing this! xo


  4. So wonderful to hear Langston Hughes reading his poem! Thanks for sharing the video and the book.


  5. I keep forgetting to search for poets reading their work. This is wonderful, Myra. Langston Hughes represents such a human spirit, doesn’t he?


  6. One of my favorite Langson poems, Myra – and isn’t it fabulous to hear him reading this one?!


  7. That line, “My soul has grown deep like the rivers,” is something else, isn’t it? Good stuff.


  8. Just last night I read a picture book biography of Langston Hughes by Alice Walker to two of my children. She includes this poem and provides its context. It is just beautiful and so powerful.


  9. maryleehahn

    I shared April Rain Song with my students just yesterday in our classroom Poetry Friday!


  10. I like “I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.” This morning, something about this poem reminds me of “She Had Some Horses” by Joy Harjo. They aren’t really similar, but this one served as a springboard for the other.


  11. Keri Collins Lewis

    His words flow like water. Perfection.


  12. This sounds like a powerful book! Loved the poem!


  13. Thank you for sharing, Myra – one of my favorite poems. Such a treat to hear the audio. And I love your description of the illustrations in the edition you found!
    Happy Poetry Month, Dear Friend!


  14. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] I Dream a World by Langston Hughes |

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