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African American Drama

An overview of the resources available for researchers in the field of African America Drama.

Countee Cullen, Playwright

Portrait of Countee Cullen in Central Park, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, June 20, 1941.

Countee Cullen in a three piece suit and tie sitting on a rock next to a tree in Central Park with foliage behind him. His fingers are intertwined to hold his left knee and he is looking at the camera.

(Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231])

A prodigal poet of articulate manner and exceptional academic ability, Countee Cullen emerged in the 1920s as the most famous black writer in America.  In addition to his poetry, Cullen was also a columnist, editor, novelist, playwright, children's writer, and educator.  Apart from winning the immediate praise of critics, Cullen's poems found a devout following within Harlem's literary salons and bohemian circles.  Inspired by European sonnet form, works of classical antiquity, and Biblical imagery, Cullen sought to create poetry that transcended the boundaries of race. "If I am going to be a poet at all," stated Cullen in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1924, "I am going to be Poet and not Negro Poet." Although unable to escape the reality of race in life or art, Cullen's universal vision yielded poetry imbued with both inner torment and beauty, which addressed the black artist's search for expression in the modern Western World. 

"Countee Cullen." Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 8, Gale, 1994. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 10 Dec. 2021.

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