The annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading returns to Providence on February 5, kicking off Black History Month in Rhode Island. The reading is a celebration of poems from Hughes, the leading voice of the Harlem Renaissance and an international icon with local ties. A diverse group from the community will read and perform selected poems from Hughes’ extensive collection. They will be accompanied by saxophonist Mike Rollins.
In its 28th year, the event was launched by the Langston Hughes Center for the Arts, the brainchild of Anne Edmonds Clanton and inspired by George Houston Bass, former creative director of Brown University’s Rites and Reason Theatre. “Before George came to Providence, he was the private secretary of Langston Hughes and became the executor of Hughes’ estate,” explains April Brown,
co-director of the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Committee. “For many years the center was one of the few places in the city where Black arts were expressed. It was the only community space.”
“This year, we’re featuring a theme of Langston Hughes as a cook. We know he was a busboy and we know he worked in the mess when he was in the Merchant Marines. We’re trying to talk about the very nature of who Langston Hughes was. The event is intergenerational and intercultural,” says co-director Kai Cameron.
The program is a partnership with RI Black Storytellers, Mixed Magic Theatre, and Haus of Glitter. “It is open to the public,” says Cameron. “It brings in all members of our community. The idea is to bring the words of Langston Hughes to the people, allowing them to make personal connections with Langston as well as have the opportunity to make connections in the community.”
The reading takes place February 5 at 1pm at the Donald J. Farish Auditorium at the Providence Public Library. LHughesCPR.org
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