It’s likely that part of the reason why is simply because he was black. Jazz was a style of music created for and by African Americans, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that white poets trying to get a foothold in the genre sounds and feels a bit like cultural imperialism. More importantly than his blackness, however - inherently tied to race as it may be - was his familiarity with the scene. Langston Hughes did not walk into the jazz world for the first time in 1958. He was actively participating in it and hanging around its progenitors in his Harlem home, writing all the while, when Allen Ginsberg was still in the womb.


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