Jean Toomer

10 Feb

While there has been much debate about today’s post subject there is no denying the impact that Jean Toomer has made on the literary landscape.

His most famous work is easily Cane, which was published in 1923. The work is “a series of vignettes” that combine poetry, prose, and dialogue.

Here’s one of the poems:

November Cotton Flower

Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground–
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

Beautiful, huh? Check out more of his poems here.

Perspectives in American Literature has a wonderful biography as well as a listing of primary works and a bibliography.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library has a number of digital archived images, including photos and letters.

Doing a paper on Jean Toomer and looking for criticism? Check out these links to start.

Have you run across any Toomer-related sites that you think others would enjoy? Let us know in the comments.

* Portrait by Winold Reiss *


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