I first read Cane by Jean Toomer in college many years ago and I chose to revisit it after its title came up in a conversation. Maya Angelou wrote: “A breakthrough in prose and poetical writing …. This book should be on all readers‘ and writers’ desks and in their minds.” Those are her profound words about this collection of prose, poems, and brief vignettes
I am still enjoying Toomer’s book but I paused to write these words about Cane. “This work is very lyrical. It should be sung or at least read aloud as the spoken word to fully capture the rhythm and rapture of these moving stories and tales.”
He tells stories of people that he has either observed or met. He truly sees them and hears their hearts whether their stories end happily or unhappily. There is an underlying beat like the hooves of feet on pavement as his characters flow through their lives.
This is such a re-gift for me during this summer’s readings because it has even greater meaning. The words are like vintage wine that have increased in value over time. I have matured and I can better see the depth of this writer’s craft. He was able to truly replicate life on a printed canvas.
I strongly agree with Dr. Maya and I think every writer should have a copy of Cane on the desk and in the personal library. Jean Toomer, a writer from the Harlem Renaissance Era, has successfully put stories in multiple forms as he pours his words in a bottle to be kept as an eternal capsule in time!
July 18, 2020