We're celebrating National Poetry Month on VPR Classical! Each weekday morning this month begins with a "poetic pairing" - a poetry reading paired with a piece of music that somehow relates to the featured poem.
Today's verse begins with the famous line, "life for me ain't been no crystal stair". In the iconic civil rights poem "Mother to Son", Langston Hughes' splintered, threadbare staircase is a vivid metaphor for the struggle not only of a mother but of a whole race, and an era.
Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. His lifetime of travels and studies took him all over the world but he will forever be identified as a voice of the Harlem Renaissance - the place that became the final resting place for his ashes when he passed away in 1967. His works include essays, poetry, plays, short stories, and non-fiction books - all of which explored themes of cultural heritage, identity, and being black in America.
This morning we'll hear Langston Hughes reading his "Mother to Son", followed by two selections ("April in Harlem", and "Night Club") from James P. Johnson's "Harlem Symphony".
Listen for more poetic pairings this month, just after 8am weekdays on VPR Classical. You can also find out more about Vermont's month-long celebration of poetry, "Poetry Alive!" here.