Jean Toomer Archive

The Re-Release of Jean Toomer’s Cane

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The image, from “Blood-Burning Moon,” of cane becoming only more pungent and pervasive after being burned (“the scent of cane came from the copper pan and drenched the forest and the hill that sloped to factory town”) is a fitting metaphor for Toomer’s legacy.

Why the Language of Awesomeness Fails Us

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We trust the language of betrayal. If a teen writer wants to win a contest, let her turn not to the wonders of the world but to its horrors. Profundity is biased toward the grim, and injustice is not ageist.

Need and Greed in Fields and Mansions

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Driving through southern fields makes visible one of the persistent paradoxes of American production: the coexistence of excess and need. Jean Toomer, writing in 1923, illustrates the disconnect between agricultural abundance and personal lack in his poem “Harvest Song.”