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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

Page ViewsPoemComments
10144 People Comments and analysis of People by Jean Toomer 11 Comments
9792 November Cotton Flower Comments and analysis of November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer 64 Comments
9429 Song of the Son
8669 Portrait in Georgia Comments and analysis of Portrait in Georgia by Jean Toomer 7 Comments
8426 Her Lips Are Copper Wire Comments and analysis of Her Lips Are Copper Wire by Jean Toomer 286 Comments
7212 A Certain Man Comments and analysis of A Certain Man by Jean Toomer 248 Comments
6233 Georgia Dusk
5393 The Lost Dancer Comments and analysis of The Lost Dancer by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
4776 Tell Me Comments and analysis of Tell Me by Jean Toomer 6 Comments
4170 Unsuspecting Comments and analysis of Unsuspecting by Jean Toomer 2 Comments
4062 Conversion
3647 A Portrait in Georgia
2547 For M.W.
1490 Harvest Song Comments and analysis of Harvest Song by Jean Toomer 50 Comments
1293 Reapers Comments and analysis of Reapers by Jean Toomer 267 Comments
898 Cotton Song Comments and analysis of Cotton Song by Jean Toomer 1 Comment
794 Evening Song Comments and analysis of Evening Song by Jean Toomer 3 Comments

Books by Jean Toomer
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