Montage of a Dream Deferred

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Montage of a Dream Deferred, sometimes called Harlem, is a book-length poem suite published by Langston Hughes in 1951. Its jazz poetry style focuses on descriptions of Harlem (a neighborhood of New York City) and its mostly African-American inhabitants.[1] The original edition was 75 pages long and comprised 91 individually titled poems, which were intended to be read as a single long poem.[2] Hughes' prefatory note for the book explained his intentions in writing the collection:

In terms of current Afro-American popular music and the sources from which it progressed—jazz, ragtime, swing, blues, boogie-woogie, and be-bop—this poem on contemporary Harlem, like be-bop, is marked by conflicting changes, sudden nuances, sharp and impudent interjections, broken rhythms, and passages sometimes in the manner of a jam session, sometimes the popular song, punctuated by the riffs, runs, breaks, and disc-tortions of the music of a community in transition.[3]

The primary motif of the poem is the "dream deferred", which represents the opposition between Harlem of the 1950s and the rest of the world.[4] Other motifs include boogie-woogie and discrimination against African Americans. The poem is characterized by its use of the montage, a cinematic technique of quickly cutting from one scene to another in order to juxtapose disparate images, and its use of contemporary jazz modes like boogie-woogie, bop and bebop, both as subjects in the individual short poems and as a method of structuring and writing the poetry.[5] The poem is divided into five sections (although some editions contain six); each section represents a different time of day in Harlem, moving from dawn through the night to the dawn of the following day. The poem begins and ends with the same two lines: "Good morning, daddy! / Ain't you heard?"[5] Montage of a Dream Deferred was Langston Hughes' first major publication following the end of World War II.[5] Its themes include the subjugation of the black community, African-American racial consciousness and history, and the need for social change to resolve the injustices faced by the residents of Harlem.

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  1. ^ Library of Congress. Langston Hughes and His Poetry; 2009-05-22 [Retrieved 2010-04-20].
  2. ^ Jazzing it up: The be-bop modernism of Langston Hughes. Mosaic: a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. December 1998;31(4):61–83.
  3. ^ In: Rampersad, Arnold. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf; 1995. p. 387.
  4. ^ Historical Moments in Langston Hughes' Montage of a Dream Deferred. March 2009;60:125–141.
  5. ^ a b c Tracy, Steven Carl (2004). A Historical Guide to Langston Hughes. Oxford University Press. pp. 76–79.