Arna Bontemps

September 26, 2006

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(1902-1973)

Key figure in the Harlem Renaissance
Writer, teacher, novelist, poet, anthologist, historian, biographer, literary scholar
Friend and correspondent of Langston Hughes
Poems remembered for vivid evocations of African-American experience and aspirations
Born in Louisiana, raised in Los Angeles, taught in New York
Poetry is notable for exploring problesm of racial justice

Quotations:

I have sown beside all waters in my day. / I planted deep, within my heart the fear / That wind or fowl would take the grain away. / I planted safe against this stark, lean year.
I scattered seed enough to plant the land / In rows from Canada to Mexico / But for my reaping only what the hand / Can hold at once is all that I can show.
Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields / My brother’s sons are gathering stalk and root; / Small wonder then my children glean in fields / They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit.

-A Black Man Talks of Reaping (in whole)

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