Synopses & Reviews
This volume brings together much of the poetry and a selection of correspondence by an enormously talented but underappreciated poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Cousin of novelist Dorothy West and friend of Zora Neale Hurston, Helene Johnson (1905-1995) first gained literary prominence when James Weldon Johnson and Robert Frost selected three of her poems for prizes in a 1926 competition. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, her poetry appeared in various small magazines. In 1933 she married, and two years later her last published poem appeared in Challenge, the journal West had founded to revive the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.
andquot;Simply put, this is a deliciously engaging book. The authors weave a rich and well-paced narrative of a network of 'literary sisters,' determined to write despite only dribbling support from the literary establishment. But more than that, the book broadens and deepens our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance, while correcting so many misconceptions surrounding its fabled artists.andquot;
andquot;With this biography, Mitchell and Davis complete a trilogy of studies of the novelist Dorothy West, poet Helene Johnson, and the women they wrote with, traveled with, performed with, and slept with during the Harlem Renaissance. Highly recommended.andquot;
Poems, correspondence, and other writings by a forgotten author who was cousin to Dorothy West and friend of Zora Neale Hurston.
Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West led a charmed life in many respects. Literary Sisters reveals a different side of Westandrsquo;s personal and professional livesandmdash;her struggles for recognition outside of the traditional literary establishment, and her collaborations with talented African American women writers, artists, and performers who faced these same problems. Integrating rare photos, letters, and archival materials from Westandrsquo;s life, Literary Sisters is not only a groundbreaking biography of an increasingly important author but also a vivid portrait of a pivotal moment for African American women in the arts.
About the Author
VERNER D. MITCHELL is an associate professor of English at the University of Memphis. He is the editor of This Waiting for Love: Helene Johnson, Poet of the Harlem Renaissance.
CYNTHIA DAVIS is a professor of English and chair of General Education (ACE) at Barry University. She is the author of Dynamic Communication for Engineers and (with Verner D. Mitchell) Dorothy West: Where the Wild Grape Grows and Western Echoes of the Harlem Renaissance: The Life and Writings of Anita Scott Coleman.
Table of Contents
1. andquot;Nothing So Broadening as Travelandquot;: Porgy, 1929
2. The Benson Family Comes to Boston
3. Pauline Hopkins and African American Literature in New England
4. Boston Girlhoods, 1910-1925
5. The Youngest Members of the Harlem Renaissance, 1926-1931
6. The Russian Interlude, Literary Salons, and Challenge