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“Mother to Son,” by Langston Hughes

February 10, 2011

Today’s poem had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up.

I read “Mother to Son,” at my dad’s request, from The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, (8th ed.) edited by Michael Meyer.  It’s also found in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage, 1995).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Piper permalink
    February 10, 2011 9:13 pm


    This was good when I read it recently, and better when you read it.


  2. February 11, 2011 1:39 pm

    I have never heard this poem before. Great poem! I like that I can hear poetry on your site that I may have not heard before (and that’s quite possible…I’m limited..LOL). I have a weird question though. Is it considered a copyright no-no to record these poems? Or is it ok as long as you give credit? Just curious. Seems like everything is copyrighted these days except for the public domain stuff.

  3. February 11, 2011 2:33 pm

    Thanks, Dad. 🙂

    And no, Michelle, that’s not a weird question *at all*. Most of what’s posted here is copyrighted. And up till now I’ve proceeded with a happy conscience because I believe these readings are “fair use.”

    As I mentioned in this interview, I lean hard on the factors considered in determining fair use: specifically, that my use is entirely educational/nonprofit, that I use only a small portion of any whole publication, and that the effect of my recordings on the market for the work I’m using is almost certainly positive. I cite the source of each poem, and I link to the book for purchase. It’s my sincere hope that poets’ work will sell as a result of my posts. Encouragingly, about two dozen of the poets whose work I’ve read have communicated with me, and every one has been enthusiastic about the project.

    However, I saw this new document, Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, linked in various places over the last couple of weeks. I’ve begun studying it and will see what changes a blogger with integrity–not just good intentions–might have to make.

    You know, I’ll post more about this when I’ve read it more carefully. Thanks for your interest!

    Cheers, KP

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