| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Gwendolyn B. Bennett
Her name is not the best known of African American
authors, but Gwendolyn Bennett is being mentioned more and more often as an
overlooked figure during the New Negro Renaissance and later. Born in Giddings,
Texas, in 1902, to Joshua and Maime Bennett—a lawyer and a schoolteacher—she
was raised in Nevada and Washington, D.C., before settling with her father and
his second wife in New York City, where she attended high school and then
Columbia University. Bennett wrote little, but she was a close friend and
associate of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, and Zora Neale
Hurston. This group of young writers collaborated in publishing Fire!!, a
literary magazine that folded after one issue but is now a collector’s item.
Like Countee Cullen, Bennett wrote a column, “Ebony Flute,” in Opportunity
magazine, and she was later active in the Federal Writer’s Project and the
Federal Art Project. Her poems are included in a dozen or more anthologies of
black American writing, including Charles S. Johnson’s influential Ebony and
addition to writing poetry that was published in Crisis, Opportunity,
Messenger, and Palms magazines, Gwendolyn Bennett worked in the Harlem Art
Center during the 1940s. She had been formally trained as an artist, having
received a certificate from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1924 before being
appointed to the faculty of Howard University, where she taught art for several
poem “To Usward” was written for a dinner the National Urban League held in New
York on May 21, 1924, in honor of the publication of Jessie Fauset’s novel
There Is Confusion. The other works here represent Bennett’s pursuit of the
lyrical tradition in writing highly personal poetry.
Walter C. Daniel|
University of Missouri at Columbia
In the Heath Anthology
Lines Written at the Grave of Alexander Dumas
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To A Dark Girl
Modern American Poetry
Criticism, a brief biography, and some poems for reading online.
Selected Articles Indexed in the MLA International Bibliography Database
Three citations for articles on Bennett and the Harlem Renaissance.
The Black Renaissance in Washington, D.C.
A hypertext biography and (primary and secondary) bibliography.
Maureen Honey, Shadowed Dreams: Women's Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, 1989