Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Bronze: A Book of Verse
Georgia Douglas Johnson


Bronze is Johnson’s second published volume (1922), an invaluable work of African American literature for scholars and poetry enthusiasts alike. Comprised of some of Johnson’s best poems, and graced with a foreword by W E B Du Bois, Bronze showcases her sense of the musicality of language while illuminating the experiences of African American women of the early twentieth century.”Don’t knock at my heart, little one, / I cannot bear the pain / Of turning deaf-ear to your call / Time and time again!” This poem, titled “Black Woman,” contains the tragic lament of a woman for whom motherhood would mean exposing her child to the cruelties of a racist world. “You do not know the monster men / Inhabiting the earth. / Be still, be still, my precious child, / I must not give you birth.” Far from denying life, this black woman knows that the life of a black child would be precious only to her, and that she would lack the ability to defend her “little one” from violence and hatred. Despite this bleak vision, Johnson also foresees a time of peace, a world in which “All men as one beneath the sun” will live “In brotherhood forever.” Throughout this collection, Johnson shows an efficiency with language and ear for music that make her an essential, underappreciated artist of the Harlem Renaissance.

Paperback, 104pp
Mint Editions, 2021 (1922)
ISBN 9781513290690


GEORGIA DOUGLAS JOHNSON (1880-1966) was an African American poet and playwright. Born in Atlanta, she excelled in school from a young age, learning to read, write, and play violin. She graduated from Atlanta University’s Normal School in 1896 before working briefly as a teacher Marietta, Georgia. In 1902, having decided to become a professional musician, she enrolled at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied music theory and learned the art of composition. She later returned to Atlanta, marrying prominent lawyer and Republican party member Henry Lincoln Johnson, with whom she had two sons. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 1910, she embarked on a literary career against her husband’s wishes, submitting poems to journals around the country. She published her first collection, The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems (1918) to modest acclaim and continued to grow her reputation with poems in The Crisis, the journal of the NAACP edited by W.E.B. Du Bois. Following her husband’s death in 1925, she supported herself and her sons with various jobs and maintained a staggering output of poems, plays, short stories, and newspaper columns. She also began hosting prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance at her home, which she called the S Street Salon, providing a meeting place for such legendary artists and intellectuals as Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Alain Locke, and Eulalie Spence. She is recognized today as a prominent anti-lynching activist, a pioneering poet, and one of the first African American woman playwrights.