Sunday, 12 February 2012

Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen, Poet - 1903-1946
A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. His birthplace is assumed to be Louisville, Kentucky. He was brought up by his grandmother, who took him to New York when he was nine. He used the name Countee Leroy Porter until 1920, though by 1918 the orphaned Cullen had been adopted by the pastor Frederick A. Cullen of the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church in Harlem.

He was educated at New York University and Harvard. While still in his twenties, his poetry won prizes in journals and was collected in Color (1925), Copper Sun (1927), The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927), and The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929).

A later collection, The Medea and Some Poems (1935), opens with a translation of Euripides' tragedy. His other works include Caroling Dusk (1927), an anthology of verse by African American writers, One Way to Heaven (1932), a novel about Harlem life, and two books for children.

Cullen married WEB DuBois' daughter but two months later sailed off to Europe with his lover Harold Jackman, who was his best man at the wedding and with whom he maintained a long-term relationship and to whom he dedicated a number of his works.

He is known for the verse questioning the pain of his existence. "I doubt not God is good, well meaning, kind, ...Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing!"


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