Langston Hughes and Stephen J. Sidelinger. Monroe's Blues.
(Venice, FL: Stephen Sidelinger. 2012.) Sam Fleming Southern Civilization Collection.
Vanderbilt University Special Collections
This is a single-instance or one-of-a-kind artist’s book made by Stephen J. Sidelinger, using the poem “Monroe’s Blues” by writer Langston Hughes (1902-1967). It is constructed from a single sheet of orange oaktag paper, folded and cut into ten pages. The poem, which expresses Monroe's physical struggle to eat and his emotional struggle for his lost friends, is handwritten in paint with illustrations made using latex house paint, sumi black ink, collages and cutouts. The artist uses the sumi black ink as a reference to the Harlem Renaissance, a period of African American artistic reawakening centered primarily in New York City in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Monroe’s fell on evil days —
His woman and his friend is dead.
Monroe’s fell on evil days,
Can’t hardly get his bread.
Monroe sings a little blues,
His little blues is sad.
Monroe sings a little blues —
My woman and my friend is dead.