Countee Cullen Essay

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Countee Cullen was a prominent American poet and was known as the “poster poet” of the 1920 artistic movement called the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance produced the first African American works of literature in the United States. There were many leading figures in the Harlem Renaissance such as James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Arna Bontemps.
Cullen was simply an amazing young man who won many poetry contests throughout New York, published two notable volumes of poetry (Color and Copper Sun), received a master’s degree from Harvard University and married the daughter of W.E.B Du Bois, a founder of the NAACP. Cullen grew up in the “heart” of New York since he was an adopted son of Reverend
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Countee Cullen’s first journal of poetry, Color, was published the same year he graduated from New York University (1925). Color was written in a “careful, traditional style, the work celebrated black beauty and deplored the effects of racism.” The book featured some of his well known poems such as, ‘Heritage’ and ‘Incident’ along with his most famous poem, ‘Yet Do I Marvel.’ Following Cullen’s graduation from New York University Phi Beta Kappa he attended Harvard where he completed his master’s degree in 1926. He also worked as an assistant editor of the Opportunity Magazine where his column increased his reputation. While editing he also published his second journal of poetry, Copper Sun. Copper Sun was very controversial in the black community because they believed Cullen did not give the theme of racism the same attention that he did in Color. In 1928 Cullen won the Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed him to go abroad to study/write. This is where he met the love of his life, Nina Yolande Du Bois whom he married in 1928 but divorced in 1930. But in 1940 Countee Cullen found a true soul mate, Ida Mae Robertson whom he later married. In the late 1930’s Cullen taught English, French and creative writing at Frederick Douglass Junior High School in New York City. He taught at Frederick Douglass until he died in 1946. During this period he wrote two children’s books- The Lost Zoo, short stories and poems about animals who died in the flood and My Lives
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