In Jessie Redmon Fauset’s second published novel, Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral (published 1928), one woman struggles to finding her own identity racially and sexually in New York City during the vibrant years of the Harlem Renaissance. Artist Angela Murray is a light-skinned “coloured” woman in the transitional years of the late 1910s

Read Post

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica 1889, and in 1912, after his first volume of Jamaican dialect poetry was published in Jamaica, he traveled to the USA, eventually settling in New York City and becoming a part of the Harlem Renaissance movement of artistic expression. In Harlem Shadows (published 1922), McKay captures his shock and

Read Post

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time. (page 1) From this beginning, Zora Neale

Read Post

In her personal journal to God, young Celie tries to make sense of the incestuous rape she’s experiencing from her Pa. A few pages later, she tries to make sense of the unhappy marriage she’s thrust in to. For Celie, life entails hard work, submission, violence, and daily rapes from her (nameless) husband. Does that

Read Post

Passing by Nella Larsen (first published 1929) captures the conflicts that young African-American women face in 1920s America. Although solidly a part of the Harlem Renaissance in the ways it tackles racial issues, Passing also magnificently captures a young woman’s repressed sexuality. The terms “passing” refers to a light-skinned African-American acting as white in order

Read Post

The title of Lorraine Hansberry’s debut play about 1950s Southside Chicago comes from a classic poem by Langston Hughes, and Hansberry includes it as an epigram to the play. What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore– And then run? Does it

Read Post

In Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979), a modern black woman’s ancestors haunt her, calling her back to them for assistance. Dana comes to terms with her own family’s history and comes to understand firsthand just what her predecessors dealt with. Kindred is not a pleasant story. After all, it deals with slavery and the question

Read Post

I took a creative writing class in tenth grade. While I can’t say any of my output was remarkable, the best aspects of the class were the samples my teacher gave us of good quality stories and poetry. I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate poetry (it took two more years before that happened), yet I

Read Post