Caroling Dusk: An Anthology of Verse by Black Poets of the Twenties: Anthology of Black Verse is a 1927 poetry anthology that was edited by Countee Cullen. It has been republished at least three times, in 1955, 1974, and 1995 and included works by thirty-eight African-American poets, including Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, and Claude McKay. The anthology also includes biographical sketches of the poets whose work is included in the book.


The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American life centered in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s and 1930s. A major aspect of this revival was poetry.[1] Hundreds of poems were written and published by African Americans during the era, which covered a wide variety of themes.[2] The Poetry Foundation wrote that poets in the Harlem Renaissance "explored the beauty and pain of black life and sought to define themselves and their community outside of white stereotypes."[1] Poets such as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Countee Cullen became well known for their poetry, which was often inspired by jazz.[2]

The poetry of the era was published in several different ways, notably in the form of anthologies. The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), Negro Poets and Their Poems (1923), An Anthology of Verse by American Negroes (1924), and Caroling Dusk (1927) have been cited as four major poetry anthologies of the Harlem Renaissance.[2]

Publication details

Cullen, who felt that poetry was "instrumental to the cultural development of a race," edited the anthology when he was twenty-four years old.[3][4] Caroling Dusk was published in 1927 by Harper & Brothers.[4] Upon publication, it included works by thirty-eight African-American poets.[4] It was republished at least three times, in 1955, 1974 (by Harper & Row), and 1995.[3][4] The anthology also includes biographical sketches of the poets whose work is included in the book. These sketches had generally been written by the poets which they were about.[3][4]

Works included

Of the thirty-eight poets whose work is in Caroling Dusk, thirteen were women.[4] Lula Lowe Weeden was the youngest poet included in the anthology, at nine years old. She stopped writing poetry as a teenager.[5]

Poet No. of poems
Paul Laurence Dunbar 8
Joseph S. Cotter Sr. 2
James Weldon Johnson 5
W. E. B. Du Bois 1
William Stanley Braithwaite 4
James Edward McCall 1
Angelina Weld Grimké 16
Anne Spencer 10
Mary Effie Lee Newsome 8
John Frederick Matheus 1
Fenton Johnson 3
Jessie Fauset 7
Alice Dunbar Nelson 3
Georgia Douglas Johnson 14
Claude McKay 8
Jean Toomer 7
Joseph S. Cotter Jr. 6
Blanche Taylor Dickinson 6
Frank Horne 4
Lewis Alexander 7
Sterling A. Brown 7
Clarissa Scott Delany 4
Langston Hughes 11
Gwendolyn B. Bennett 10
Arna Bontemps 14
Albert Rice 2
Countee Cullen 8
Donald Jeffrey Hates 6
Jonathan Henderson Brooks 3
Gladys May Casely Hayford 4
Lucy Ariel Wilson 1
George Leonard Allen 2
Richard Bruce 2
Waring Cuney 7
Edward S. Silvera 2
Helene Johnson 8
Wesley Curtwright 1
Lula Lowe Weeden 6


The anthology was described as being "critically acclaimed".[3] A review in the American Journal of Sociology noted that Cullen had tried to "direct attention to some of the younger and less-known Negro writers."[6] A contemporary review that appeared in the Sioux City Journal noted that "Negroes must derive much satisfaction out of the fact these 38 men and women and girls and boys of their race are spinning verses much better than the verses many of their white brethren spin." The reviewer noted that the "never shall forget" some of the poems included.[7]

In 1974 a column in The American Poetry Review that was written by the poet June Jordan covered the anthology. Jordan said she was "extremely delighted to recommend" the collection because of the poets it included. She continued to say that there was "much to cherish" in the anthology, including its compiler (although he almost excessively promoted himself). Jordan criticized some of the poems for lacking substance and not attempting to create a "distinctively Black poem." She concluded by praising the view the anthology presented into the era when it was published.[4] That same year a reviewer in the Kansas City Times described the anthology as "a delight and a joy" and the author, professor Girard T. Bryant, considered that "perhaps no other anthology of poetry by black poets has ever equaled it."[8]


  1. ^ a b "An Introduction to the Harlem Renaissance". Poetry Foundation. 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  2. ^ a b c Wintz, Cary D.; Finkelman, Paul (2004). Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance: K-Y. Taylor & Francis. pp. 727–730. ISBN 978-1-57958-458-0.
  3. ^ a b c d The Schomburg Center guide to black literature : from the eighteenth century to the present. Roger M. Valade, Denise Kasinec, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Detroit: Gale Research. 1996. p. 82. ISBN 0-7876-0289-2. OCLC 32924112.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jordan, June (1974). "The Black Poet Speaks Of Poetry: A Column: Essay and Review of Countee Cullen's Anthology, 'Caroling Dusk'". The American Poetry Review. 3 (3): 49–51. ISSN 0360-3709.
  5. ^ Roses, Lorraine Elena (1990). Harlem Renaissance and beyond : literary biographies of 100 Black women writers, 1900-1945. Ruth Elizabeth Randolph. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall. p. 337. ISBN 0-8161-8926-9. OCLC 20261851.
  6. ^ Park, Robert E. (1928). "Review of Rainbow Round My Shoulder. The Blue Trail of Black Ulysses., , ; Negro Workaday Songs., , ; Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro., ; Congaree Sketches., ; Singing Soldiers., , ; Plays of Negro Life., , , ; Caroling Dusk., , ; God's Trombones., ; Ebony and Topaz: A Collectanea., ; Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro, as Sung at Hampton Institute". American Journal of Sociology. 33 (6): 988–995. ISSN 0002-9602. JSTOR 2765991.
  7. ^ Aguasoscuras, Conde (October 13, 1929). "Collection of Poems by Negro Lyricists". Sioux City Journal. p. 34 – via open access.
  8. ^ Bryant, Girard T. (1974-04-20). "Contrast to Protest Poetry". The Kansas City Times. p. 50. Retrieved 2021-02-15 – via open access.