| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Born in 1903, Countee Cullen was the adopted son of
Frederick A. Cullen, an AME minister, and his wife, Carolyn. He attended DeWitt
Clinton High School in New York and then New York University, where he was a
member of Phi Beta Kappa. After earning his MA at Harvard in 1926, he returned
to New York, where he worked as a teacher.
he wrote and published works representing practically every genre of creative
literature, Countee Cullen was essentially a poet. He had started writing
poetry in high school and was but 22 years old when he published his first and
most important book of poetry, Color (1925). He quickly became one of the
best-known writers among the young group of artists whose works gave vitality
to the fabled New Negro Renaissance. Single poems of his appeared in American
Mercury, Bookman, Century, Harper’s, Nation, Palms, Survey Graphic, and Vanity
Fair; his awards and prizes for poetry included those won in contests sponsored
by Crisis, Opportunity, and Poetry magazines. And because he was literary editor
for Opportunity magazine—one of the two foremost black periodicals of the
era—he exercised significant influence over which other young authors had their
works appear in print in the mid-20s.
because he used conventional literary forms in writing poetry, casual critics
have seldom thought of Cullen as a social protest writer. Yet he was, and much
of his work illustrates his disdain for American racial prejudice. In tone,
Cullen’s poetry is marked by intensity of emotion and, thematically, by a
persistent concern with the ironies and frustrations of the African American
experience, especially from a religious perspective.
Walter C. Daniel|
University of Missouri at Columbia
In the Heath Anthology
From the Dark Tower
Simon the Cyrenian Speaks
Yet Do I Marvel
Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song
Caroling Dusk: An Anthology of Verse by Negro Poets
The Ballad of the Brown Girl
The Black Christ and Other Poems
One Way to Heaven
On These I Stand
Coverage of the Scottsboro Boys' Trials
Would you like to add another Cultural Object?
There are no pedagogical assignments or approaches for this author.
Poems from the Survey Graphic Harlem Number (March 1925).
A collection of several Cullen poems.
Modern American Poetry
A chronology, biography, criticism, scans of book jackets, links, and more.
Houston A. Baker, Jr., A Many-Colored Coat of Dreams: The Poetry of Countee Cullen, 1974
Gerald Early, ed., My Soul's High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen, Voice of the Harlem Renaissance, 1991
Margaret Perry, A Bio-bibliography of Countee Cullen, 1903-1946, 1971
Alan R. Shucard, Countee Cullen, 1984