Paul Laurence Dunbar

1872–1906
Paul Laurence Dunbar

The son of former slaves, Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American poet to reach a wide audience, publishing prolifically before his early death. His use of both dialect and standard English to portray his culture’s folkways, joys, and travails distinguishes him from other writers of the time. He also spoke out against racism and injustice in essays that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Saturday Evening Post, and other mainstream publications.

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"In the beginning of my Poetry Out Loud experience, I didn't expect to become so attached to my three competition poems. Five months later, they have become a part of me."
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