Countee Cullen by Countee Cullen
Collected Poems: (American Poets Project #32)

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In his early twenties, Countee Cullen emerged as one of the central figures of the tumultuous, defiant, intensely creative cultural movement now known as the Harlem Renaissance. Here, in a single volume, is the most comprehensive collection of Cullen’s poetry ever assembled. It begins with his astonishing first book, Color (1925)––a debut that made him “famous, like Byron, overnight” (as H. L. Mencken put it). Cullen’s intricate, deceptively simple lyrics shocked some early readers with their frank explorations of racial, sexual, and religious themes. They have since become touchstones of African American poetic tradition:

            Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:            To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

The collection follows the evolution of Cullen’s prodigious talents through Copper Sun (1927), The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927), The Black Christ & Other Poems (1929), and the poems of The Medea and Some Poems (1935)––reprinted for the first time with the illustrations that accompanied the original editions. Also included are playful verses from his children’s book The Lost Zoo (1940); haunting late poems he proposed to add to On These I Stand (1947) before his untimely death; and dozens of uncollected poems, some never before published, which reveal an intense engagement with the politics of civil rights. Taken together, these poems offer an unprecedented occasion to revisit Cullen’s distinctive voice.           


About Countee Cullen

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Major Jackson is the author of three volumes of poetry: Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn, and a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at the University of Vermont, and the poetry editor of the Harvard Review.
Published March 5, 2013 by The Library of America. 308 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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After a long silence, Countee Cullen, foremost negro poet, issues this version of Euripides' classic -- a colloquial one, full of fine lines and quotable sentences, but not apt to widen Cullen's market.

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The New York Review of Books

Jazz Age Harlem was proud that a black youth had mastered English prosody, in a manner not so far removed from the example of Phyllis Wheatley, the eighteenth-century prodigy in Boston, whose strict rhymed couplets were taken as proof that a black was capable of high verse.

Mar 21 2013 | Read Full Review of Countee Cullen: Collected Poe...

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