LANGSTON RUPTURE

THEY ASKED ME AT THE PTA
IS IT TRUE THAT NEGROES——?
I SAID, ASK YOUR MAMA.

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a few weeks ago, WNYC invited me to make a piece responding to one of the 12 ‘chapters’ from Langston Hughes fantastic 1961 poem, Ask Your Mama. I’m a fan of his work, so it was an honor to step inside his words. I chose part 8: “Is it True?”, a powerful piece about Moe Asch & Alan Lomax & unknowability & suburbia, among other things…

The results can be heard streaming here, and will be broadcast on WNYC 93.9fm today and tomorrow, along with an interview (in which I make the claim that Ask your mama? is the central question of black existence).

Ask Your Mama (also check Horn of Plenty performed by Beans)

part 8 poem text

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5 thoughts on “LANGSTON RUPTURE”

  1. Very cool, Jace. I didn’t know this piece of Hughes’, it’s such a far cry from the usual “Negro Speaks of Rivers” image of him as the sonorous and decorous Poet-with-a-capital-P of iconic Harlem Renaissance. He sounds here more like Bill Burroughs in that Bill Frissell recording whose name I’ve forgotten (I have the cassette somewhere). And the “Horn of Plenty” is deeeeep, nicely staccato in Beans’ rendering.

  2. Hey, congratulations… and all the four tunes are brilliant, up for rewarding replays – are there plans to release them, in any which way?

  3. perhaps the others.. there may be problems w/ the Hughes estate allowing the recording I use of him to be downloadable or otherwise available… we’re working on it. stay tuned.

  4. The English teachers at our school are teaching Langston Hughes right now. Is there anyway for you to prepare some sort of discussion plan around these pieces?

  5. none of the pieces will be allowed for release because they all used the poem, even though they didnt use langston’s voice. ( i work for wnyc)and i agree, all four pieces are fantastic.

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