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(26 December 1894 – 30 March 1967 / Washington D.C.)

Jean Toomer
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Jean Toomer was an American poet and novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His first book Cane is considered by many as his most significant.

Life and Career

Early Life

Toomer was born Nathan Eugene Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C. His father was a prosperous farmer, originally born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia. Nina Pinchback was also of mixed ethnic descent. Her father was Louisiana Governor P. B. S. Pinchback, the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state. (Both of Toomer's maternal grandparents had white fathers. Pinchback's father was a planter and his mother was a mulatto slave who was ... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''Meanwhile, the men, with vestiges of pomp,
    Race memories of king and caravan,
    High-priests, an ostrich, and a juju-man,
    Go singing through the footpaths of the swamp.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 17-20). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. ...
  • ''O singers, resinous and soft your songs
    Above the sacred whisper of the pines,
    Give virgin lips to cornfield concubines,
    Bring dreams of Christ to dusky cane-lipped throngs.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 25-28). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. ...
  • ''some genius of the South
    With blood-hot eyes and cane-lipped scented mouth,
    Surprised in making folk-songs from soul sounds.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 6-8). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2...
  • ''Superstition saw
    Something it had never seen before:
    Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
    Beauty so sudden for that time of year.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. November Cotton Flower (l. 11-14). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Cl...
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  • Lamont Palmer (2/19/2006 7:35:00 AM)

    Largely obscure now, but a very fine poet in his day.

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