Singing the Lesbian Blues in 1920s Harlem.
In Jazz Age speakeasies, dive bars, and private parties, blue singers had the freedom to explore alternative sexuality, and on a rare occasion, they even expressed it in song.
Anne Spencer (1882-1975) (video tribute from the State Library of Virginia) was a Harlem Renaissance poet, a gardener, a librarian, and an activist. Her work was influential among her peers and successors - as was her legendary and beloved garden in Lynchburg, Va, where she lived for her entire adult life. She wrote only 50 known poems - 25 to 35 of which were published in her lifetime - on topics that were important to her - the beauty of nature, racism and equality, and her faith, including these 8 of her better-known poems , Before the Feast of Shushan, and Lady, Lady. Many of her poems were reprinted in anthologies, but the controversial White Things (c. 1918, published c. 1923, inspired by a particularly horrible lynching of a pregnant woman) was never reprinted. [more inside]
Extravagant Crowd - Carl Van Vechten’s Portraits of Women and Photos of African Americans. Previous post by ND¢: Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten 1932-1964. Also, public domain works from Wikimedia Commons. [more inside]
Creative Americans: The Carl Van Vechten Photographs Collection at the Library of Congress consists of 1,395 photographs taken by American photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) between 1932 and 1964. The bulk of the collection consists of portrait photographs of celebrities, including many figures from the Harlem Renaissance. Portraits include those of Tallulah Bankhead, Salvador Dali, Truman Capote, Dizzy Gillespie, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eartha Kitt, and Joe Louis. They are all available in medium or high resolution JPEG’s or uncompressed archival TIFF versions.