Found Poems & Harlem Renaissance

In American Lit II we are reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and studying the Harlem Renaissance. Today, Evie Boyer-Heagle and Lucas Scharer wrote a found poem combining words and phrases from Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels To Be Colored Me” and Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” 

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No, I do not weep at the world
But this is the mountain
standing in the way
of any true Negro art in America.

A very high mountain,
indeed for the would-be racial artist
to climb in order to discover himself
and his people

And so the word white
comes to be unconsciously
a symbol
of all virtues.
It holds for the children’s
beauty,
morality,
and money.

An artist must be free to choose
what he does,
certainly,
but he must also
never be afraid to do
what he must choose.

I feel most colored
when I am thrown against
a sharp
white background.

And within the next decade
I expect to see the work of
a growing school of colored artists
who paint
and model the beauty
of dark faces
and create with new technique
the expressions
of their own
soul-world.

We know we are beautiful.
And ugly too.
If colored people are pleased
we are glad.
If they are not,
their displeasure doesn’t matter either.
We build our temples
for tomorrow,
strong as we know how,
as we stand on top of the mountain,
free within ourselves.

No, I do not weep at the world.
I am too busy sharpening
my oyster knife.

 

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