Portrait in Georgia & Georgia Dusk

Jean Toomer (1894–1967) spent barely eight weeks of his life in Georgia, in the fall of 1921. But this short visit to the Sparta community inspired him to write Cane (1923), his acclaimed and influential novel of African American life in the early twentieth century. Despite the promise shown by this work, Toomer’s subsequent literary efforts frustrated and disappointed readers, critics, and fellow writers alike. Although he wrote throughout his life, Toomer’s literary visibility effectively ended in 1936 with the publication of his long poem “Blue Meridian.” Toomer died in 1967, two years before the paperback reissue of Cane sparked a renewed interest in the author and his modest body of work. (Inducted in 2002)