In 1850, Root went to Paris for a year to study and on his return began to compose music. His early works and a few later ones were published under the pseudonym "Wurzel," the German word for root. His first song, Hazel Dell was a success and his cantata, The Flower Queen produced in 1881 was quite successful as well. For several years he devoted time to composing, occasionally conducting musical conventions. One convention brought him in contact with Lowell Mason and in 1852 Root originated a summer normal school of music in New York City. The faculty included Lason, William Bradbury and Thomas Hastings.
As other indigenous American writers began to gain notoriety, Momaday turned to poetry, releasing a small collection called Angle of Geese . Writing for The Southern Review , John Finlay described it as Momaday's best work, and that it should "earn him a permanent place in our literature."  that it The poems in Angle of Geese were later included in an expanded collection, The Gourd Dancer (1976), which also included passages excised from The Way to Rainy Mountain . Most of Momaday's subsequent work has blended poetry and prose.
After the assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, Baldwin returned to St. Paul de Vence, France, where he worked on a book about the disillusionment of the times, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974). Many responded to the harsh tone of If Beale Street Could Talk with accusations of bitterness – but even though Baldwin had encapsulated much of the anger of the times in his book, he always remained a constant advocate for universal love and brotherhood. During the last ten years of his life, he produced a number of important works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He also turned to teaching as a new way of connecting with the young.