Presentation on theme: "Poets of the Harlem Renaissance Circa 1925-1935. Historical Background In the late teens and early 20s, Harlem, in upper Manhattan just North of Central."— Presentation transcript:
Poets of the Harlem Renaissance Circa
Historical Background In the late teens and early 20s, Harlem, in upper Manhattan just North of Central Park, became the largest all-black neighborhood in the country. Many of Harlem’s population were newly transported from the South, where lynching and unemployment (among other problems) threatened a peaceful existence. Harlem’s black community developed its own theatres, record companies, publishing houses, and increased the number of social and political institutions. The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion in African- American literature, music, and art, among a closely-knit group of artists who included their black heritage when they wrote, composed, and painted.
African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance were not reacting against any earlier movement—they were simply promoting black pride and self-expression for the first time on a large and organized scale. –Some artists were concerned with finding acceptance in mainstream white culture while others were revolutionary in trying to create an African American literature. The Harlem Renaissance was enlightened by education and nourished by folk sources such as music and the church. In 1935 the HR came to an abrupt end when a race riot solidified Harlem's image as a troubled ghetto rather than the thriving creative center it had been.
Famous Harlem Renaissance Writers Langston Hughes, the founder of the Jazz Poetry genre and one of the leading figures of the HR. Accepted as his vocation “to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America” Claude McKay—from Jamaica, wrote nostalgically about his homeland, and on the topic of the American negro’s pride and rage Countee Cullen, in his poetry, questions the benevolence of a creator who has bestowed a race with mixed blessings. Eugene Toomer—a light-skinned black who focuses on the Symbolist movement and was only briefly involved with the HR before he “disappeared into the white world” Zora Neale Hurston—well known for her prose (as opposed to poetry).
“Yet Do I Marvel” by Countee Cullen I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind And did He stoop to quibble could tell why The little buried mole continues blind, Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die, Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus To struggle up a never-ending stair. Inscrutable His ways are, and immune To catechism by a mind too strewn With petty cares to slightly understand What awful brain compels His awful hand. Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
“Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes To fling my arms wide In some place of the sun, To whirl and to dance Till the white day is done. Then rest at cool evening Beneath a tall tree While night comes on gently, Dark like me- That is my dream! To fling my arms wide In the face of the sun, Dance! Whirl! Whirl! Till the quick day is done. Rest at pale evening... A tall, slim tree... Night coming tenderly Black like me.
“People” by Jean Toomer To those fixed on white, White is white, To those fixed on black, It is the same, And red is red, Yellow, yellow- Surely there are such sights In the many colored world, Or in the mind. The strange thing is that These people never see themselves Or you, or me. Are they not in their minds? Are we not in the world? This is a curious blindness For those that are color blind. What queer beliefs That men who believe in sights Disbelieve in seers. O people, if you but used Your other eyes You would see beings.