The most prolific writer of the Harlem Renaissance was Langston Hughes. Hughes cast off the influences of white poets and wrote with the rhythmic meter of blues and jazz. Claude McKay urged African Americans to stand up for their rights in his powerful verses. Jean Toomer wrote plays and short stories, as well as poems, to capture the spirit of his times. Other writing luminaries of the period include Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, and Arna Bontemps. For more, visit PoetryFoundation.org and read Hughes’s article “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” and Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Black Poet as Canon-Maker.” Browse more Harlem Renaissance poets there as well.
Students from Kenwood Academy, Rebirth Poetry Ensemble, Oak Park River Forest High School, and Columbia College will open performances with poetry written during the Harlem Renaissance period, and they will share original work responding to the ideals of those vibrant times.