Jean Toomer

1894–1967
Jean Toomer

An important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Jean Toomer was born in Washington, DC, the grandson of the first governor of African-American descent in the United States. A descendent of both white and black heritage, Toomer attended both all-white and all-black segregated schools, and from early on in his life he resisted being classified by race, preferring to call himself simply American. In 1922, he began writing heavily about the African-American experience, eventually culminating with the publication of his most famous work, Cane (1923), an experimental collection of stories and poems. It was hailed by critics and is seen as an important part of the Harlem Renaissance.

What People are Saying

"I was surprised that I was able to select poems that are so out of my usual spoken word preference. The Poetry Out Loud website has hundreds of poems that I have never seen before, and the fact that I found 3 and was able to make it so far with them is amazing to me. I guess I learned that stepping outside of the box is okay!"
Annabelle Emuze
2015 IL POL Champion