African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

"The Crisis": a Collection of Poems

The Crisis: a Record of the Darker Races was a monthly magazine published by the NAACP, which began publication in 1910. Throughout its early years (1910-1934), the magazine was edited by W.E.B. Du Bois, who exerted a strong editorial influence over the magazine's contents. The magazine published poetry, fiction, and even drama throughout its run alongside conventional journalistic articles and opinion. By 1918, The Crisis had a large national subscription base, with more than 30,000 subscribers and likely more than 100,000 readers per issue. The literature published in the magazine was highly influential, and critics have noted that the magazine had an important impact on the literary culture of the Harlem Renaissance that emerged in the early 1920s. Between 1919 and 1926, Jessie Redmon Fauset served as Literary Editor for The Crisis. During that period of time, many young writers who would later be mainstays of the Harlem Renaissance began publishing poetry and criticism in the pages of the magazineincluding Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Anne Spencer, as well as Fauset herself. In addition to poetry, the newspaper frequently published criticism and reviews of poetry by Black poets. The most influential of these might be William Stanley Braithwaite's 1919 essay, "The Negro in American Literature" (a revised version of that essay was later reprinted in Alain Locke's The New Negro: an Interpretation). 

Between 1911 and 1926, the magazine published more than 150 poems by a wide range of authors. Below, you'll find the poems we have collected thus far that appeared in the magazine. Intriguingly, many of the writers who published poems most frequently in The Crisis during this period are not the most famous figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Georgia Douglas Johnson, for instance, established her voice as a poet in the 1910s, and published more than 30 poems in the magazine during these years. 

Source: Many of the poems collected on this page were discovered via the digital repostiory of The Crisis at Modernist Journals Project. Others (mainly poems published after 1922) have been sourced from digital versions of The Crisis found on sites like Archive.org and HathiTrust. 

Acknowledgments: This page has benefited from the efforts of Christian Farrior, a Graduate Research Assistant who assisted in retyping and formatting poems from page image format in the summer of 2022. 

 

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