Fun Facts Friday: Arna Bontemps

October 13, 2023

Arna Bontemps (13 October, 1902 – 4 June, 1973) was a member of the Harlem Renaissance, a poet, librarian, and novelist.

Fun Facts Friday: Arna Bontemps
Books by Arna Bontemps*

Fun Facts about Arna Bontemps:

  1. Arna Wendell Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. His family was Catholic Creole and included free blacks and French colonists. His father was a contractor, and his mother was a schoolteacher.
  2. During the Great Migration of African-Americans out of the South, the Bontemps family moved to Los Angeles.
  3. After graduation from Pacific Union College in Angwin, CA he settled in New York City and became part of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was the cultural revival of African-American art, music, politics, fashion, as well as, of course, literature.
  4. At the age of 22 Arna Bontemps published his first poem, Hope in the NAACP’s official magazine The Crisis. His poetry appeared in other influential magazines of the 1920s.
  5. While teaching at the Harlem Academy, Mr. Bontemps continued writing and publishing poetry. In 1926 and 1927 he received his first major poetry prizes, the Alexander Pushkin Prize of Opportunity, and the Crisis Poetry Prize.
  6. God Sends Sunday, Mr. Bontemps 1931 debut as a novelist is considered to be the last of the Harlem Renaissance. The story revolves around Little Augie, an African-American jockey who is good with horses and bad with people. The authors next two novels revolve around slave revolts, Black Thunder (1936) in Virginia and 1939’s Drums at Dusk in Haiti.
  7. In the early 1930s, Arna Bontemps also wrote children’s books, including Popo and Fifina, collaborating with Langston Huges.
  8. Bontemps earned his master’s degree from the University of Chicago in library science. Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee appointed him as librarian, a position he held for more than 20 years until his retirement. The Langston Hughes Renaissance Collection of African-American literature and culture was developed by him and is now an important part of Fisk University.
  9. After retiring, Mr. Bontemps worked in Chicago, at the University of Illinois, and as a curator of the James Weldon Johnson Collection at Yale University.
  10. Arna Bontemps poems are about endurance and dignity even though they certainly criticize injustice. The poems also show his interest in African-American culture and oral traditions.

Books by Arna Bontemps*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books


Arna Bontemps | Wikipedia

Arna Bontemps | Poetry Foundation

Arna Bontemps: 1902 – 1973 |

Arna Bontemps – American writer | Britannica

Arna Bontemps, Documenting the Harlem Renaissance | ThoughtCo.

Harlem Renaissance |

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Fun Facts Friday: Arna Bontemps
Arna Bontemps (13 October, 1902 – 4 June, 1973) was a member of the Harlem Renaissance, a poet, librarian, and novelist.
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