This article uncovers Langston Hughes’s and Amiri Baraka’s shared interest in the art of black mood. Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz (1962) and In Our Terribleness (1970) are “mood books”—books that make black mood become the deepest frequency of black aesthetics. Reading Ask Your Mama alongside In Our Terribleness opens up Hughes’s anticipation of the Black Art Movement’s call for black interior avant-garde art. The article ends with an analysis of another mood book—Hughes’s last book Black Misery (1969). Hughes’s dedication of the liner notes in Ask Your Mama—“for the poetically unhep”—gains a new meaning when applied to Black Misery. Only the poetically “hep,” those who feel the terribleness hailed by Baraka, will understand that this terribleness does not mean black misery.

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