If you asked a young Anne Spencer what career she wanted, poet would not have been her answer. Anne, a wife and mother living in Lynchburg during the early 1900s, was a librarian at an all-black high school finding comfort and refuge in cultivating a beautiful garden she called Edankraal. Much like the Bronte sisters before her, she wrote poetry on any paper surface available1—writing became her way to express her feelings and engage with the world around her.
NAACP national secretary and celebrated poet James Weldon Johnson came to Lynchburg to help establish a local chapter of the NAACP and stayed with the Spencers. When he read Anne’s poetry, he encouraged her to publish it. Although her work remained in the shadows for many years, she influenced many other writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
To read Anne Spencer’s poetry, check out these books from the John Tyler libraries:
Chester – PS591.N4 C8 1993
New Anthology of American Poetry, volume 2
Midlothian – PS586 .N49 2005
Book of American Negro Poetry
Chester – PS591.N4 J6
Midlothian – PS591.N4 B62 1983
American Negro Poetry by Arna Bontemps
Chester – PS591.N4 B58
1 “Poetry.” Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, Dec. 2015, http://www.annespencermuseum.com/poetry.php.