This is a collection of articles
and books relating to Blues Poetry, the Poets
and Poetry about the Blues and Blues Artists. We hope to add to the collection over time, so if you have any
articles or books about Blues Poetry and would like to contribute, please email
ARTICLES / POETRY
Here is our introduction to the collection:
Poetry and The
- by Christine White
"There are two words that are
particularly difficult to define in the English language; 'poetry' and 'blues'.
To attempt to classify these two together is even more difficult yet a large
number of blues critics claim that blues lyrics are poetry. This paper proposes
to examine the definitions of 'poetry' and 'blues' and to consider the extent to
which it is justified to link the two".
The Blues and Jazz Poetry of Langston Hughes
A Personal Appreciation- by Ray
Hughes’s first published poem, ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’, was in a
1921 issue of The Crisis magazine. This was to become one of his most
famous poems, later appearing in Brownie’s Book and he included it in
his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues in 1926".....
This personal appreciation of Langston Hughes' poetry is
published in instalments......
Bluesman - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
Any old man" ....
In The Words Of Bluesman Jack - A Poem by Dave
"From bar to bar
I play my life story" ...
The Blues And Me -
A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
"As I sit here
with my guitar" ...
The Blues - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
"The blues of my life
play through my mind" ...
The Weekend Blues Session - A Poem by Dave Alan
"Three days and
playing the guitar blues of life" ...
A Gibson Guitar - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
I play the blues
on my Gibson guitar"
Twelve Bar Lil - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
plays the blues away" ...
The Rolling Blues - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
"The blues are rolling
like a train down the tracks" ...
A Lost And Lonely Boy - A Poem by Dave Alan Walker
lost and lonely boy
with nothing but his dreams" ...
House of Blues - A Poem by Roger Dorey
Is a Saturday night" ...
Long Live The Soul Inside The Blues - A Poem
by Roger Dorey
"This ain't the end of the world
Just the end of another year" ...
Boogie Man! (A Hallowe'en Song) - A Poem
by Roger Dorey
in costume, I'm under cover
That's not a ghost, that's my ex-lover" ...
Poetry of The Blues
- by Sam Charters
Publications, First Edition 1963
songs from which much of the blues has been derived were
like seeds scattered across the southern landscape.
Wherever they strayed the blues sprang up after them &
as a man sang the blues he scattered the material
farther, until the blues became a nearly communal
expression of the Negro in America. Most of the verses
of the blues are used by every singer, & they have
become the root language for the more personal singers
like John Estes & Robert Johnson. I have not mentioned a
particular singer as the source for these verses; since
this would tend to imply that there is someone who could
be thought of as having written them. The best singers,
however, often developed a group of verses which became
their personal material, & if the verse seemed to be
related to one singer I have mentioned his name. Often
the verses are used in two or three blues; since the
blues is a pliant idiom, so I have not used a title with
the verse. I have tried to suggest some of the
casualness of blues composition by following the
singers' own use of the verse. In those blues which have
become a personal poetry I have generally mentioned both
the singer & the title he has given to his song".
- Samuel Charters, New Hampshire. November, 1962
Blues and the Poetic Spirit
- by Paul Garon
has been written about the sociological significance of
the blues, this is a unique inquiry into the blues and
the mind, a study of the blues as thought. Here, the
subconscious power of the blues is examined from a
poetic and psychological perspective, illuminating the
blues’ deepest creative sources and exploring its
far-reaching influence and appeal.
Surrealist poetry in particular, blues communicate
through highly charged symbols of aggression and desire—eros,
crime, magic, night, and drugs, among others. A close
analysis of classic blues lyrics, along with a wealth of
source material from Freud and James Frazer, to Breton
and Marcuse, conveys the blues’ major poetic function of
spiritual revolt against repression.
– 4 Sep 2003
The blues has
left an indelible mark on the work of a diverse range of
poets: from "The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes and
"Funeral Blues" by W. H. Auden, to "Blues on Yellow" by
Marilyn Chin and "Reservation Blues" by Sherman Alexie.
Here are blues-influenced and blues--inflected poems
from, among others, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg,
June Jordan, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni, Charles
Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Cornelius Eady. And here,
too, are classic song lyrics-poems in their own
right-from Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, and
The rich emotional palette of the blues is fully
represented here in verse that pays tribute to the heart
and humor of the music, and in poems that swing with its
history and hard-bitten hope.
- by Langston Hughes
Knopf Publishing Group
years after its first publication, this celebratory
edition of The Weary Blues reminds us of the
stunning achievement of Langston Hughes, who was just
twenty-four at its first appearance. Beginning with the
opening “Proem” (prologue poem)—“I am a Negro: / Black
as the night is black, / Black like the depths of my
Africa”—Hughes spoke directly, intimately, and
powerfully of the experiences of African Americans at a
time when their voices were newly being heard in our
literature. As the legendary Carl Van Vechten wrote in a
brief introduction to the original 1926 edition, “His
cabaret songs throb with the true jazz rhythm; his
sea-pieces ache with a calm, melancholy lyricism; he
cries bitterly from the heart of his race . . . Always,
however, his stanzas are subjective, personal,” and, he
concludes, they are the expression of “an essentially
sensitive and subtly illusive nature.” That illusive
nature darts among these early lines and begins to
reveal itself, with precocious confidence and clarity.
The Blues and
Other Fun Poetry
- by Janice McLaughlin
McLaughlin of southwestern Pennsylvania has in recent
years studied and mastered different forms of poetry.
'The Blues and Other Fun Poetry' is her third book of