"A sense of humanity permeates the black-and-white photographs: young boys and girls at play, being groomed or whispering to a parent; couples in animated conversation or holding each other close at a house party; pedestrians heading to work, to school or to the park. And DeCarava’s narrow range of deep tones breathes beautiful life into the black faces of the young and old."
Read the full book review in The New York Times
First published in 1955, The Sweet Flypaper of Life is a poem celebrating the lives of everyday people. While it’s about listening to a jukebox, about riding the subway alone at night, about children playing at an open fire hydrant, about picket lines and art spaces, this collaboration between artist Roy DeCarava and writer Langston Hughes evokes a unique and lively visual dialogue in a celebration of creativity and community. DeCarava renders photographic images with richly toned silver light, often at the deeper end of the scale, weaving in Hughes’s words and honoring what the authors saw, knew, and felt deeply about life in their city.
Widely considered a classic of photographic visual literature, The Sweet Flypaper of Life was reprinted by public demand several times. This fourth printing is the first authorized English-language edition since 1983, and includes an afterword by the publisher Sherry Turner DeCarava tracing the history and continuing importance of the publication.
Images: The Sweet Flypaper of Life, published by First Print Press, 2018. Photos by Kyle Knodell