Countee Cullen Biography
(1903–46), Color, Copper Sun, The Black Christ, Caroling Dusk, St Louis Woman, On These I Stand
American poet, born in Louisville, Kentucky; he grew up in Harlem, New York and was educated at New York University and Harvard, where his poetry was praised by Irving Babbitt. Color (1925) gained him widespread acclaim. His subsequent volumes include Copper Sun (1927) and The Black Christ (1929). His poetry made fluent use of the traditional modes of English verse to articulate his impassioned concern with the experience of black Americans. A leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, he edited Caroling Dusk (1927), an anthology of poems by writers associated with the movement. During the 1930s he concentrated on his work as a playwright, which culminated in the successful Broadway production of the musical St Louis Woman (with Arna Bontemps, 1946). On These I Stand (1947) contained previously uncollected poetry with a selection from his earlier volumes. His other works include a translation of Euripides' Medea (1935) and the novel One Way to Heaven (1932), which deals with moral and social divisions within the Harlem community. My Soul's High Song (edited by G. L. Early, 1991) collects his verse along with a variety of essays, travel writings, and autobiographical fragments. Alan R. Suchard's Countee Cullen appeared in 1984. See also Ethnicity.