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2.3 “My People” | Reading, Intermediate English

Read about an American poet named Langston Hughes and one of his most famous poems.

Langston Hughes learn English online poetry poet poem

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an African-American poet who was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents were divorced when he was a baby, and Hughes’ grandmother raised him  until he was 13. That year he moved in with his mother and her new husband. Hughes started writing poetry as a teenager. Hughes attended Columbia University in New York for one year, while he worked as a cook, launderer, busboy. Later, he was a seaman on a ship traveling in Europe and Africa. By the time he was 22, his first book of poetry was published. He continued writing until his death in 1967. His writing contributed to a movement called the Harlem Renaissance which highlighted the distinct cultural experience of African Americans.


My People

Dream-singers,
Story-tellers,
Dancers,
Loud laughers in the hands of Fate—
           My People.
Dish-washers,
Elevator-boys,
Ladies’ maids,
Crap-shooters,
Cooks,
Waiters,
Jazzers,
Nurses of babies,
Loaders of ships,
Porters,
Hairdressers,
Comedians in vaudeville
And band-men in circuses—
Dream-singers all,
Story-tellers all.
Dancers—
God! What dancers!
Singers—
God! What singers!
Singers and dancers,
Dancers and laughers.
Laughers?
Yes, laughers….laughers…..laughers—
Loud-mouthed laughers in the hands of Fate.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 20, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.