Chapter

Poetry as Counternarrative

W. Jason Miller

in Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035338
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038704 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813035338.003.0005
Poetry as Counternarrative

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The chapter looks into two of Hughes's closely related pair of texts—”The Negro” and “Mississippi”—both of which shift Hughes's poetic associations with lynching from Texas to the Mississippi Delta. It depicts the consequences of the censorship issues and accusations of communism in the 1950s. It stages Hughes's discoveries of novel strategies to address the topic of lynching in his poetry without being censored. It discusses Hughes's references to lynching as he discusses the subject under the guise of simply retelling history. The chapter examines “The Negro” where Hughes applied the skills of passing in person to the ability of passing poems into print and “Mississippi” where he responded to the lynching of Emmett Till.

Keywords: poetry; counternarrative; Langston Hughes; The Negro; Mississippi; lynching; Texas; Mississippi Delta; Emmett Till

Chapter.  11311 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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