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 that appeared in the magazine.
Perhaps the most important figure to have emerged from the pages of The Crisis was Langston Hughes, whose first published poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1921) became a signature poem both in the poet's career and for African American poetry more generally. Hughes published more than 25 poems in The Crisis between 1921-1926. They are collected below, and for convenience, we have also collected them on a separate page here.
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. Other poets who published often in The Crisis include James D. Corrothers, Lucian B. Watkins, Carrie Williams Clifford, and W.E.B. Du Bois himself. (Du Bois published eight poems in The Crisis in the 1910s.)
Highlights: The poems in this collection are quite heterogeneous. Some poetry published in The Crisis was relatively anodyne love poetry and occasional poetry oriented to various seasons, sometimes with a religious theme (i.e., poems for Easter, Christmas, and the seasons). The magazine also published quite a number of tribute poems for important figures in the Black tradition, including Frederick Douglass and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Notably, Du Bois and Fauset published quite a number of poems linked to the African American civil right struggle, and many of these poems will continue to have power over readers. A few this editor might recommend exploring include: Langston Hughes, "The Negro," Roscoe Jamison, "Negro Soldiers" , Lucian B. Watkins, "Song of the American Dove", Georgia Douglas Johnson, "A Sonnet: to the Mantled", James Weldon Johnson's "To America", and Countee Cullen's "Threnody for a Brown Girl.".
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.