Salty summer with Langston Hughes & Ashley Bryan

Poetry Friday’s weekend picnic is collected by Tabatha!!!

Today, my little corner of the blogosphere
washes ashore with
a picture book poetry collection and artwork
that may make you sail fast,
to the nearest beach.

On a recent humid, landlocked night at the library,
I hooked into the splashy, floaty cover of SAIL AWAY.

This bounty is a group of poems by Langston Hughes,
with art
from puppet maker, painter, creative wizard,
Ashley Bryan.

SAIL AWAY  cover artwork  c. Ashley Bryan,  poems c. Langston Hughes

cover artwork
c. Ashley Bryan,
poems c. Langston Hughes

Many readers know that Mr. Bryan is a long-time,
year-round dweller of an island off the coast of Maine.
His artwork collage compositions for this collection
are rolling, liquid beauties.
(A surprise on the endpapers reflects his love of his Mother, is all I will say about his process for this book.)

Not many of us – me included – are familiar
with the years that the late, great, Mr. Hughes
labored as a seaman.
This book tells us that his appreciation of the
salt life stems from jobs he landed on ships and boats
in Europe and Africa.

Long Trip
by Langston Hughes

“…We dip and dive,
Rise and roll,
Hide and are hidden
On the sea….”

lines from “Long Trip”
c.Langston Hughes

My first editor in the news bureau where I worked
upon college graduation was also a licensed
U.S. Coast Guard Captain.
Capt. Mike, who was as gentle a wordsmith
& boatsmith as you could find, would
understand those lines.

The seas become inscrutably flat at
times, which is how our family likes it
when we pop up a big umbrella at the shore.
But who knows what flat water covers?

Sea Calm
by Langston Hughes

“How still
How strangely still
The water is today.
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way.”
c.Langston Hughes

I hope you can ship off to your favorite pond, lake,
creek, river, bay, ocean, or backyard kiddie pool,
with Capt. Hughes & Capt. Bryan.
I’d like to give a basket of tumbled-in-surf, St. George
Island, Florida, shells to the brilliant publishing team that
hauled this catch ashore for the world to sing.

For more on Ashley Bryan, I found an important
interview from The Horn Book, with details about

Of the many online resources about Langston Hughes, I think this
one from Howard University Library is especially wonderful.

And I hope you swim back here, likely sometime
in August, after this blog returns from break.

Oyster Boat c. JanGodownAnnino

Oyster Boat c. JanGodownAnnino

13 thoughts on “Salty summer with Langston Hughes & Ashley Bryan

  1. Had to circle back and thank you for the link to that interview – one of the favorite ones I’ve read about this treasure of a man. Loved what he said about creating, and living in poems he’s illustrating, and – everything!


    • The Roger Sutton interview is choice.
      Great that you could make the time &
      this means a lot coming from you as I know you are oceans further along in your deep poetry study, lovely poem-making &
      generous poem sharing.


  2. Perfect summer post, Jan – and thank you for sharing this book! Will click on over now to learn more about this work. Wishing you a soft, salty surf, more shells than your hands can hold, and poems drifting down from gull wings… :0)


  3. Lovely, Jan. I never knew Langston Hughes worked on ships. I also didn’t know Ashley Bryan is a year-long resident of an island off the coast of Maine! Wish I was! We are going to Maine in August, as we do every year. But I’m happy to be on dry land right now, after an unusual experience with our recent river cruise in Europe.

    Enjoy your break. Happy summer and many hugs to you, friend.


    • Wishes for a salty time in Maine (if you are near the coast…)
      Appreciations for your appreciation of the SAIL AWAY Capt. B & Capt. H.
      And I’ll bet YOU made the best time of your unusual experience. Will there
      be a poem forthcoming about it down the line?

      Hugs back, with a dry towel on top 🙂


      • If not a poem, then definitely a story sooner or later. Yes, we always stay near the coast in Maine! I can’t wait. Should be a lot more relaxing than our venture in June. 🙂 Before August I must finish draft 4 of my verse novel! Hope yours is coming along nicely.


      • I know you can do it & I didn’t realize you already created a complete draft – Brava!

        Yes, thanks on n-i-v. In fact 2-day I gave an update on mine to our fearless leaders.


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