- The first to recognize the potential of the blues as written poetry was Langston Hughes, who was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902.
- When he was eleven years old, he heard the blues coming from an orchestra of blind musicians on Independence Avenue in Kansas City.
- Hughes moved to the East Coast in 1921 and heard the music again, in clubs on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York, and 7th Street in Washington, D.C.
- "I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on 7th Street," he remembered in his autobiography The Big Sea. Those songs "had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going."
- The blues stanza allowed Hughes to convey the African American experience in people's own vernacular language.