Jean Toomer (December 26, 1894 – March 30, 1967) was an American poet, novelist and important figure of the Harlem Renaissance and modernism.
His first book Cane, published in 1923, is considered by many to be his most significant. Of mixed race, Toomer struggled to identify as “an American” and resisted efforts to classify him as a black writer.
In 1924, 1926 and 1927, Toomer went to France for periods of study with Gurdjieff, who had settled at Fontainebleau near Paris. He was a student of Gurdjieff until the mid-1930s.
I am of no particular race. I am of the human race, a man at large in the human world, preparing a new race.
I am of no specific region. I am of earth.
I am of no particular class. I am of the human class, preparing a new class.
I am neither male nor female nor in-between. I am of sex, with male differentiations.
I am of no special field. I am of the field of being.”
― Jean Toomer
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