09 August 2011

Jean Toomer's CANE

Currently, I'm reading Jean Toomer's multi-genre collection Cane. Frankly, I'm amazed I haven't read this book in its entirety before now. Formally, the text oscillates between prose vignettes, poems, and, one could claim (as the editor does), drama. But the writing in all of these sections reads like poetry. In fact, I would argue that more often than not the prose sections are denser, richer, and more poetic than the traditional poetry sections therein. The highly-imagistic text offers a glimpse into both rural and urban Reconstruction-era, African-American life and culture through the voice of an unnamed speaker. It's beautiful, sad, and reads like a work that is still fresh and innovate and gorgeous eighty-eight years after its original publication date. If you happen to be reading this post and have not read this book, go and pick yourself up a copy immediately.


  1. For a brief period before her death Toomer was married to Margery Latimer, a now unsung fiction writer. Her book of short stories, Guardian Angel and Other Stories, is definitely worth checking out. She died at the age of 33, and if she had lived longer I wonder what might have been.

  2. Maybe you will lend this to me...