What Was Langston Hughes Hobbies

Langston Hughes

Considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Langston Hughes was an iconic leader of the Harlem Renaissance and arguably the most famous poet and playwright of his generation. His deep love of African-American culture and the lifestyle of the African-American people infused his works with a sense of pride and artistic validity. Though he is best remembered for his poetry and plays, Hughes was also fiercely committed to his own artistic and personal development, often exploring new interests, immersing himself in different worlds, and working tirelessly to hone his craft. One of the greatest examples of his own commitment to achieving his goals and living out his dreams is his vast array of hobbies.

Painting, Sketching, and Sculpting

At an early age, Hughes displayed an aptitude for art, particularly drawing and painting. He enjoyed sketching the people and places he encountered in his daily life, captivating some of the beauty, energy, and life of the locals in his works. Over time he became proficient in oil painting and watercolors, often using vibrant and intense hues to form vivid impressions of his travels and musings.

His oil paintings from the 1920s depict somber African Americans struggling with a bleak reality, and these paintings created a powerful narrative, allowing him to express his anguished yearnings for a better life, for a world removed from the struggles of race and poverty. Hughes even experimented with cubism and other modernist trends, learning how to reduce hisfigure to its primary geometrical shapes.

In addition to his two-dimensional works, he was also an accomplished sculptor and wood worker. He was often seen in stalls of the craftsmen in his city, purchasing blocks of wood with the hope of transforming them into one of his unique figurines. His wooden pieces varied in complexity and size, but all showcased his meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Music and Dance

Hughes was also passionate about music and dancing, which was a mainstay of the Harlem Renaissance culture he held dear. He was an enthusiastic participant in the music scene of his day, and could often be seen singing along and dancing with the crowd at the local jazz clubs.

Though he had no formal training in the piano, he became a proficient and improvisational player by attending local music workshops and sitting in with some of the more established performers of the time. Apart from his taste for jazz and blues, he was also a fan of the classical masters, such as Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss. His passionate love of music led him to write lyrics, many of which were set to music and later released as popular songs.

Theater and Drama

As a master playwright, Hughes took to the stage with an innate sense of grace and an eye for the absurdities in life. He wrote a number of plays that explored the plight of African Americans during the Jim Crow era. His passion for drama was so strong that he wrote an adaptation of Macbeth that was performed by an all-black cast in 1914.

He enjoyed the process of writing, saying that it was a sort of cathartic release. It allowed him to explore his emotions, to express himself and his ideas with clarity, and to pour his soul onto a blank page. This passion for the written word eventually morphed into spoken-word poetry, which he performed with fiery intensity at live performances.

Reading and Writing

The majority of Hughes’ work was powered by his seemingly endless thirst for knowledge, and his love of reading and writing. A true intellectual, he devoured the books of giants like Langston Hughes and Faulkner, historians and journalists, businessmen and scholars.

At the same time, Hughes wrote prolifically. As he wrote more and more, he saw his work reach wider and wider audiences, and he began to use his influences to create powerful stories and plays that spoke to the challenges of his era. This unwavering commitment resulted in some of the greatest works in African-American literature, gaining him international recognition and acclaim.

Travel and Exploration

From the beginnings of Hughes’ career, he was fond of travelling, often immersing himself in the culture, languages, and people of the places he visited. Travelling became a way for him to explore his own identity as well as the greater cultural bonds of the African diaspora. His travels allowed him to collect and share stories, meet new people, and create artwork about each location.

Hughes visited numerous places throughout his life, such as Haiti, the Caribbean islands, Spain, England, East and West Africa, Japan and Mexico, always learning and growing from the experiences. He created some of his most influential pieces of work, such as Not Without Laughter (his first novel) and his renowned poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, during this period of exploration.

Sports and Hobbies

A lesser known facet of Langston Hughes was his passion for sports. As a young man, he was an avid and skilled boxer, often sparring with amateurs and professionals, and even served as a boxing referee.

He also cultivated a remarkable athletic talent by running track and participating in minor league baseball, often competing alongside the workers of his adopted home, Mexico, who played their local leagues. His enthusiasm for sports was formidable, his competitiveness undeniable, and his commitment and skill impressive for someone as slender as he.

Photography and Filmmaking

One of Hughes’ lesser-known hobbies was photography. He was an ardent supporter of the new art and technology of the time, often frequenting photography studios and exploring the possibilities of film. He documented his travels and life as an African-American in film, creating some of the earliest nonfiction films depicting the African-American experience. He released some of this work and wrote multiple articles, books, and plays to speak about his film making experiments and endeavors.

Apart from film, Hughes also used photography to capture the rich cultural and intellectual spirit of a particular area, often experimenting with portrait photography to capture the beauty and spirit of the people closest to him.

Culinary Arts

Like any great artist, Langston Hughes had a hand in the culinary arts. He was particularly fond of soup and enjoyed making his own. For him, cooking was a form of bonding, often inviting friends and acquaintances for dinner or taking them to local restaurants.

His most popular dish, according to those closest to him, was his nourishing noodle soup. It was often flavored with different items found at local markets and eaten with the people who shared their culture and stories with Hughes. He regarded his kitchen as an escape and often spent cheerful evenings chatting and laughing over his culinary works.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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