An Introduction To This Blog

Young McKay

The poet Claude McKay is touted as the “proud child of black Jamaica, diehard bohemian, globe-trotting social radical, so-called playboy of the New Negro Renaissance, and author of ballads, sonnets, stories, novels, memoirs, and political commentary” (Maxwell, xi). He has also been described as “a nationalist, a Communist, a radical, a proletarian, a rebel, a Catholic, an aesthete, a humanist, and even a fascist” (Hathaway, 29). McKay “brings to his verse a race spirit and a race soul. But also…a sensitivity sharpened by experiences of other lands and peoples…he brought a sense of immediacy to his poetry” (Gayle, 17). Although today he is taught almost exclusively as a poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Claude McKay was first a poet of Jamaica; as Heather Hathaway claims, he was “a thing apart” and “out of time” (Hathaway, 29). It is these qualities, his constant “displacement,” that allowed him to assume this myriad of roles, to be at once a son of Jamaica and a “warrior-poet” (Gayle, 43) of the Harlem Renaissance.