‘Song for Today’: The Dialectic Between Langston Hughes’ Early Jazz and Blues Poetry and the ‘New Poetic Genre’

Shanesha R. F. Brooks : English/Interdisciplinary Studies

Mentor: Professor Robert Hass, English

Exploring the lyrical conversation between the jazz and blues poetry of Langston Hughes and contemporary hip-hop musicians, Shanesha will analyze the musical techniques and poetic structure of Hughes’s poetry and the lyrics of musicians Black Star and Jazzmatazz, “musical poets” who contribute to what she calls the “New Poetic Genre.” Identifying parallels between the socio-political and historical contexts of Hughes and of these contemporary musicians, Shanesha will research the consciousnesses conjured from resistance, the search for identity, and the subsequent struggle for self-expression. As a double major in English and Interdisciplinary Studies, Shanesha’s deep interests in music, poetry, and history meld her project into a treatise that will integrate musical and textual analysis, literary theory, and interviews. She will also work with archival materials at Yale University’s Beinecke Library and at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. The results of her research will be presented as her senior honors thesis.