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Welcome: African American Poetry--a Digital Anthology
Edited by Amardeep Singh, Lehigh University
This digital anthology is intended as a resource for students, teachers, and researchers interested in African American poetry, published roughly between 1870 and 1926.
What's here -- at a glance:
- Full Text Collections: Books Published by African American Poets, 1870-1926
- Author Profiles: Bios and Full Text Collections
- African American Poetry: A Story of Magazines
- African American Poetry: Anthologies of the 1920s
- The Beginnings of the Harlem Renaissance: Overview and Timeline of Key Events (with links to key texts)
- African American Poetry Before the Harlem Renaissance (with links to key texts)
- Areas of Interest: Topics and Themes
In greater depth:
The aspiration of African American Poetry: a Digital Anthology is to provide access to a comprehensive collection of Black poetry from a crucial historical period. As of July 2022, this site contains full text versions of about 50 books of poetry (including anthologies as well as single-author books), and a growing collection of periodical poetry from African American magazines like The Crisis, Opportunity, The Messenger, and Negro World.. The anthology contains substantial collections by major authors like Langston Hughes, Jessie Fauset, Claude McKay, and Countee Cullen, but also materials by lesser-known writers. By putting all of these materials together on a single site -- a project somewhere between an "anthology," an "archive" and a textual corpus -- we hope to give readers new angles on a vast and important literary movement that has sometimes been painted a bit narrowly and simplistically.
All poems on this site are in the public domain. We have brought together material from digital editions in two other digital projects, "Claude McKay's Early Poetry," and "Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance," and also taken advantage of new materials entering the public domain, including Alain Locke's anthology The New Negro (1925), Langston Hughes' The Weary Blues (1926), and Countee Cullen's Color (1925).
The Harlem Renaissance: This site can be used as an archive of Harlem Renaissance poetry, especially in its early phases. See our introductory overview and timeline of the beginnings of the Harlem Renaissance. Also see: Black Poetry Before the Harlem Renaissance, which is a good introductory guide for the extensive array of materials on this site dated before 1922.
Anthologies: (See African American Poetry: Anthologies of the 1920s) There were several major anthologies devoted to African American literature that appeared between 1922 and 1926, and they played a major role in the creation of what would later be called the Harlem Renaissance. Of these, two were edited by Black critics, James Weldon Johnson's Book of American Negro Poetry and Alain Locke's The New Negro: an Interpretation.
A third volume appeared in 1924, edited by a trio of professors, with Newman Ivey White as the lead editor: An Anthology of Verse by American Negroes. Finally, an idiosyncratic but enthusiastic contribution appeared in 1923, by the white editor and activist Robert T. Kerlin, Negro Poets and their Poems. Here, we are including the poems printed in these anthologies alongside full books of poetry published by Black authors. There is significant overlap between the anthologies, though the differences are also instructive.
Periodicals: (See African American Poetry: a Story of Magazines.) This project aims to include and index periodical publication of poetry by Black writers from this period. The largest and perhaps the most important collection developed thus far might be the collection of poems published in The Crisis between 1910 and 1926.
We have also added a plain text version of the November, 1926 issue of Fire!! Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists, a magazine edited by Wallace Thurman, with poetry by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Helene Johnson, Arna Bontemps, and others, along with short stories by Thurman, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Zora Neale Hurston. We are also starting the process of working through issues of Negro World (esp. the "Poetry for the People" column that regularly appeared in 1920-1921), and The Messenger, to discover and transcribe poetry found there. Finally, we have been developing a collection of poetry for children from The Brownies' Book, a magazine edited by Du Bois and Fauset that ran between 1920-1921.
Areas of Interest (Thematic Tags): (See Areas of Interest: Topics and Themes) As we add individual poems to the anthology, we are marking them with thematic tags as appropriate; this allows readers to find poems by area of interest -- which might be especially valuable for students. Here are some relevant tags:
Accessibility and Rights: The poems and images on this site are all understood to be in the public domain. The site itself is attributed to Amardeep Singh on a Creative Commons "Attribution" basis, with contributions from students whose works appear with permission and full attribution. All poems on this site can be downloaded in plain text format from a publicly-accessible Google Drive folder here.
Latest edits made: July, 2022
Project Editor: Amardeep Singh, Professor of English, Lehigh University.
Email amsp [at] lehigh.edu
Editorial team and acknowledgments: Students contributing to components of this project include: Heather Simoneau (2015), Hannah Provost (2020), Amira Shokr (2020), Joanna Grim (2017), and Christian Farrior (2022). This project was supported by a grant from the Mellon Humanities Lab at Lehigh University, a Mellon-funded grant, in the summer of 2022.
"The New Negro: an Interpretation." Anthology Edited by Alain Locke (1925)
Table of Contents
Part I: The Negro Renaissance
The New Negro Alain Locke 3
Negro Art and America Albert C. Barnes 19
The Negro in American Literature. William Stanley Braithwaite 29
Negro Youth Speaks Alain Locke 47
The City of Refuge Rudolph Fisher 57
Vestiges Rudolph Fisher 75
Fog. John Matheus 85
Carma, from Cane Jean Toomer. 96
Fern, from Cane Jean Toomer. 99
Spunk Zora Neale Hurston 105
Sahdji. Bruce Nugent 113
The Palm Porch Eric Walrond 115
Poems. Countée Cullen 129
Poems. Claude McKay 133
Poems. Jean Toomer. 136
The Creation James Weldon Johnson 138
Poems. Langston Hughes. 141
The Day-Breakers Arna Bontemps 145
Poems Georgia Johnson. 146
Lady, Lady Anne Spencer 148
The Black Finger . Angelina Grimke 148
Enchantment Lewis Alexander. 149
The Drama of Negro Life Montgomery Gregory
The Gift of Laughter Jessie Fauset
Compromise (A Folk Play) Willis Richardson
The Negro Spirituals Alain Locke
Negro Dancers Claude McKay
Jazz at Home J. A. Rogers
Song Gwendolyn B. Bennett
Jazzonia Langston Hughes
Nude Young Dancer Langston Hughes
THE NEGRO DIGS UP HIS PAST Arthur A. Schomburg
American Negro Folk Literature Arthur Huff Fauset
T’appin Told by Cugo Lewis
B’rer Rabbit Fools Buzzard
Heritage Countée Cullen
The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts Alain Locke
PART II: The New Negro in a New World
THE NEGRO PIONEERS Paul U. Kellogg
THE NEW FRONTAGE ON AMERICAN LIFE Charles S. Johnson
The Road Helene Johnson
THE NEW SCENE:
Harlem: the Culture Capital James Weldon Johnson
Howard: The National Negro University Kelly Miller
Hampton-Tuskegee: Missioners of the Masses Robert R. Moton
Durham: Capital of the Black Middle Class E. Franklin Frazier
Gift of the Black Tropics W. A. Domingo
THE NEGRO AND THE AMERICAN TRADITION
The Negro’s Americanism Melville J. Herskovits
The Paradox of Color Walter White
The Task of Negro Womanhood Elise Johnson McDougald
WORLDS OF COLOR:
The Negro Mind Reaches Out W. E. B. DuBois