African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Helene Johnson: a Selection of Poems


Helene Johnson (1905-19995) was born and raised in Boston, and later lived in Brookline Massachusetts. She and her cousin Dorothy West lived in Harlem in the 1920s, where Johnson briefly attended Columbia University (roughly as a contemporary of Langston Hughes, who also attended Columbia but did not graduate). Helene Johnson emerged on the scene of Harlem Renaissance poetry when she won an Honorable Mention in the Opportunity Magazine poetry contest in 1926. Johnson continued to publish poetry throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, with poems appearing in magazines like Saturday Evening Quill, Palms, Opportunity, and Harlem. Surprisingly, Johnson stopped publishing poetry entirely after 1933. 

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