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Biography of Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer (1894 - 1967)

Jean Toomer (December 26, 1894 –March 30, 1967) was a poet, novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance.

Born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C., Jean was of mixed racial descent and spent his childhood attending both all-white and all-black segregated schools. In his early years Toomer resisted racial classifications and wished to be identified only as an American. Toomer attended several colleges for short stints but did not take a degree. The readings that he would undertake and the lectures he attended during his college years shaped the direction his writing would take. After leaving college, Toomer published some short stories, devoted several months to the study of Eastern philosophies and took a job as a principal in Sparta, Georgia. The segregation Toomer experienced in the South lead Toomer to identify more strongly as an African-American. In 1923, Toomer published the experimental novel Cane, his most famous work. A series of poems and short stories about the Black experience in America, Cane was hailed by critics and is seen as an important work of both the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation. In 1926 Toomer went to France to attend the Gurdjieff Institute and was associated with G. I. Gurdjieff until 1935. Toomer was prolific during this period, writing plays, the novel The Gallonwerps and several poems and short stories that appeared in The Dial.

Toomer found it harder and harder to get published throughout the 1930s and in 1940 moved with his second wife to Doylestown, Pennsylvania where he joined the Society of Friends and began to withdraw from society. Toomer wrote a small amount of fiction and published essays in Quaker publications during this time, but devoted most of his time to serving on Quaker committees. Toomer stopped writing literary works after 1950. He died in 1967 after several years of poor health.


Biography by: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Jean Toomer.


17 Poems written by Jean Toomer

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | Page Views | Comments | [First Lines]


First LineComments
A certain man wishes to be a prince Comments and analysis of A Certain Man by Jean Toomer 42 Comments
African Guardian of Souls,
Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones Comments and analysis of Reapers by Jean Toomer 59 Comments
Boll-weevil's coming, and the winter's cold, Comments and analysis of November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer 38 Comments
Come, brother, come. Lets lift it; Comments and analysis of Cotton Song by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
Full moon rising on the waters of my heart, Comments and analysis of Evening Song by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
Hair--braided chestnut, Comments and analysis of Portrait in Georgia by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
Hair-braided chestnut,
I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown. All my oats are cradled. Comments and analysis of Harvest Song by Jean Toomer 11 Comments
Pour O pour that parting soul in song
Spatial depths of being survive Comments and analysis of The Lost Dancer by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
Tell me, dear beauty of the dusk,
The sky, lazily disdaining to pursue
There is a natty kind of mind Comments and analysis of Unsuspecting by Jean Toomer 2 Comments
There is no transcience of twilight in
To those fixed on white, Comments and analysis of People by Jean Toomer 3 Comments
whisper of yellow globes Comments and analysis of Her Lips Are Copper Wire by Jean Toomer 56 Comments


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