Countee Cullen Poems

Poems » countee cullen

Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen (May 30, 1903–January 9, 1946) was an African-American Romantic poet and an active participant in the Harlem Renaissance. Countee Cullen was born with the name Countee LeRoy Porter and was abandoned by his mother at birth. He was raised by his grandmother, Mrs. Porter, but because he was very secretive about his life, it is unclear where he was actually born. Sources state he was either born in Louisville, Kentucky, or Baltimore. It is known that he attended De Witt Clinton High School in New York and received special honors in Latin studies in 1922. In 1918, Mrs. Porter died. Cullen was subsequently adopted by Reverend Frederick Ashbury Cullen, minister at Salem Methodist Episcopal Church in Harlem, and thus Cullen was raised a Methodist. Throughout his unstable childhood his birth mother never attempted to contact Cullen, and would not attempt to do so until sometime in the 1920s, after he'd become famous. Cullen won many poetry contests from a very young age and often had his winning work reprinted. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, mainly consisting of all white, male students. He became Vice President of his class during his senior year, was also involved in the school magazine as an editor, and was affiliated with the Arista Honor Society. After graduating, Cullen attended New York University and joined the fraternity Phi Beta Kappa. He once again worked for the school’s magazine as the poetry editor. He is also known for winning the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Poetry Prize. During his undergraduate career, he published poetry in The Crisis, under W. E. B. Du Bois, and Opportunity of the National Urban League, winning prizes from both publications. He also had poems in Harper's, Century Magazine, and Poetry. In 1925, he graduated from NYU and published his first volume of verse, Color. Cullen was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. Cullen was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a period when the African American artist community began to flourish, primarily in urban centers. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree he attended Harvard to obtain his Master’s. In April of 1928, Cullen married Nina Yolande Du Bois, daughter of the famous W. E. B. Du Bois. After only two months, their marriage fell apart when Cullen and his best man left for Europe leaving his wife behind. Nina divorced him two years later, saying that he told her that he was sexually attracted to men. In 1928, the poet traveled to France as a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1940, he married Ida Mae Roberson and they enjoyed a content marriage. On January 9, 1946, Cullen unexpectedly died of a uremic poisoning and high blood pressure. After his death, for a few years, Cullen was honored as the most celebrated African American writer. A collection of some of his best work was also arranged in On These I Stand.

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean... [read poem]
Continue in Thomas Lux »»»

Page 1 of 1