University of Pittsburgh
August 4, 2002

Langston Hughes Reading Circles Celebrate the Author's 100th Birthday Pitt faculty member Ogle Duff coordinates centennial celebration on behalf of The National Council of Teachers of English

Contact:  412-624-4147

August 5, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Ogle Duff, an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education, is hosting several poetry circles in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of English to celebrate author Langston Hughes' 100th birthday.

The first two events will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 10 and Sept. 7 in the Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library, 7101 Hamilton Ave. Two additional poetry circles will be held Nov. 2 and 10 at times and locations to be announced.

The impetus for the poetry circles comes from the "Speaking of Rivers: Taking Poetry to the People" project, funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the University of Kansas-Lawrence.

The goal of the Langston Hughes Poetry Circles is to bring poetry into the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds and to introduce readers to Hughes' work. The Aug. 10 reading is geared toward adult readers. Participants will discuss Hughes' autobiography, "The Big Sea," published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1940. "The Dream Keeper and Other Poems," a book of poetry for children published by Knopf in 1932, will be the focus of the Sept. 7 reading. In addition to reading and listening to Hughes' poetry, children will make drums to play.

Known as "Poet Laureate of Harlem," Hughes was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance. He was born on Feb. 1, 1902, in Joplin, Mo. Hughes went to Columbia University in New York in 1921, but left after a year. Working as a seaman, he traveled to Africa and Europe. His first book of poetry, "The Weary Blues," was published by Knopf in 1926. He earned a scholarship at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pa., and received the Bachelor of Arts degree there in 1929.

Hughes won the Harmon Gold Medal for Literature for his novel "Not Without Laughter," published in 1930 by Knopf. "The Ways of White Folks," a collection of short stories, was published in 1934 by Knopf. Hughes' play "Mulatto" opened on Broadway in 1935. He also wrote the lyrics for "Street Scene," a 1947 opera by Kurt Weill. His other work includes a volume of poetry, "Montage of a Dream Deferred," published by Henry Holt in 1951; a collection of short stories, "Laughing to Keep from Crying," published by Holt in 1952; and a children's picture book, "Black Misery," illustrated by Arouni and published by Paul Eriksson in 1969.

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