The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer

Overview

This volume is the only collected edition of poems by Jean Toomer, the enigmatic American writer, Gurdjieffian guru, and Quaker convert who is perhaps best known for his 1923 lyrical narrative Cane. The fifty-five poems here -- most of them previously unpublished -- chart a fascinating evolution of artistic consciousness.

The book is divided into sections reflecting four distinct periods of creativity in Toomer's career. The Aesthetic period includes Imagist, Symbolist, and ...

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The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer

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Overview

This volume is the only collected edition of poems by Jean Toomer, the enigmatic American writer, Gurdjieffian guru, and Quaker convert who is perhaps best known for his 1923 lyrical narrative Cane. The fifty-five poems here -- most of them previously unpublished -- chart a fascinating evolution of artistic consciousness.

The book is divided into sections reflecting four distinct periods of creativity in Toomer's career. The Aesthetic period includes Imagist, Symbolist, and other experimental pieces, such as "Five Vignettes," while "Georgia Dusk" and the newly discovered poem "Tell Me" come from Toomer' s Ancestral Consciousness period in the early 1920s. "The Blue Meridian" and other Objective Consciousness poems reveal the influence of idealist philosopher Georges Gurdjieff. Among the works of this period the editor presents a group of local color poems picturing the landscape of the American Southwest, including "Imprint for Rio Grande." "It Is Everywhere," another newly discovered poem, celebrates America and democratic idealism. The Quaker religious philosophy of Toomer's final years is demonstrated in such Christian Existential works as "They Are Not Missed" and "To Gurdjieff Dying."

Robert Jones's clear and comprehensive introduction examines the major poems in this volume and serves as a guide through the stages of Toomer's evolution as an artist and thinker. The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer will prove essential to Toomer's admirers as well as to scholars and students of modern poetry, Afro-American literature, and American studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The most illuminating showcase of Toomer's poetic consciousness available.

Bernard W. Bell

Library Journal
With his first published work, the lyrical narrative Cane 1923, Toomer joined the first rank of Afro-American writers. But the creative output that followed went largely unrecognized during his lifetime. He did not, however, cease writingas these 55 poems, many previously unpublished, attest. His poetry became a means of expressing his quest of an idealist philosophy, one in which men were not separated by skin color but, as in the volume's centerpiece, ``Blue Meridian,'' would come together to create a new American race. ``This attempt to assemble a standard edition of Toomer's poetical works'' deserves a place in all large public and academic libraries. Robert Hudzik, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807842096
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/1988
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 148
  • Product dimensions: 0.34 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Robert B. Jones taught English at Rice University.

Margery Toomer Latimer is the daughter of Jean Toomer.

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