A poet and writer from Jamaica, Claude McKay was an important figure during the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry was widely recognized and his wit and humour were influential in the development of the genre. His Complete Poems are considered one of the most important works of American literature.
Claudius “Claude” McKay
Festus Claudius “Claude” McKai, a Jamaican-American writer and poet, was a pivotal figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His life was a whirlwind of artistic creativity that spanned more than half a century.
McKay’s career started when he was still a young man. While studying in France, he wrote poetry and short stories. He also supported himself intermittently by being an artist’s model. In the 1920s, McKay developed an interest in communism, and he wrote several articles for various publications. He eventually published three novels and published his autobiography, A Long Way From Home (1937).
McKay moved to London in 1919 and became actively involved in socialist activities. He joined the International Socialist Club and the Rationalist Press Association. He also wrote for the Workers’ Dreadnought. He was also a participant in the Communist Unity Conference, which gave birth to the Communist Party of Great Britain. He then toured the Soviet Union, Morocco, and Russia, before returning to the United States in 1934. He was a US citizen by 1940.
Claude Mckay began writing poetry in Jamaican patois when he was just ten years old. In 1912, he published his first collection of poems in the dialect, Songs of Jamaica. McKay also published a book of poems based on his experiences in the constabulary, “Constab Ballads.” His poems are often reminiscent of the dialect and are written with a rich lyrical quality.
In addition to writing poetry in the Jamaican patois, McKay also published two collections of poetry. His first volume, Songs of Jamaica, was introduced by poet Jekyll, who helped him set the poems to music. His work was soon published, and Jekyll helped him fund his education at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute.
During the Harlem Renaissance, Claude McKay became a literary activist for social justice. He is remembered for his poems, essays, and novels that highlight oppression. He died in Chicago, Illinois, on May 22, 1948. His poems and essays exemplify the plight of the black community.
McKay’s first novel, “Color Scheme,” was never published, but he did publish several short stories set in Harlem. The best-known one, “Home to Harlem,” was published in 1928. The novel was criticized by W. E. B. Du Bois because of its exploitative nature.
McKay, who was Jamaican and American, was a literary figure during the Harlem Renaissance. His early poetry focuses on rural peasants, while his later works are about the hardships of urban life. A transnational figure, McKay spent his early years abroad while writing poetry that resonates in the contemporary world.
The Complete Poems of Claude McKay is a collection of over 300 poems, many of which were not previously published. McKay, who was born in Jamaica, was a Bolshevist who left America in 1922 to travel the world. After returning to his native Harlem in 1934, he denounced the Communist government, which led him to write many of his poems about anti-Communism.
McKay is a lover of nature and describes how nature renews itself in the summer. He describes the bamboo and cotton trees, the buzzing of bees and fresh ferns. During this time, the poet recalls how he felt when he was a child, enjoying nature.
During the 1920s, the career of Black writers was dominated by a political bent. McKay’s writing reflects this political outlook, as she was often described as a “socialist émigré”. She was inspired by the struggle for freedom in the American south and the struggles of black women. She spent several years working as an expatriate writer before returning to the U.S. to pursue her passion for poetry and travel.
In the early 1920s, McKay visited the Soviet Union and attended the fourth congress of the Communist International. She met leading Communists and wrote about social issues in the United States. Later, she lived in England and France and visited the Soviet Union. She also wrote a collection of essays titled Negroes in America and three stories published in Lynching in America. She went on to write a memoir and a sociology study. Her works were widely read and her work had an impact on black intellectuals in the Caribbean, West Africa, and Europe.