For a few shining years Countee Cullen seemed destined to define the African American urban experience. A gifted poet, Cullen wrote some of the outstanding works of the 1920s, and when he married Yolande Du Bois, in what was proclaimed the social event of the decade, his success and fame seemed assured. It was not to be. The marriage failed, and with it Cullen lost his best patrons and his poetic productivity declined sharply. After remarrying, Cullen was on the cusp of reinventing himself, as a writer for the theatre, when he died an untimely death. Through it all, he remained faithful to his vision of words, poetry, and the duty of a person who felt his blackness, but did not wish to be constrained by it.
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