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Summary Article: Arna Bontemps (1902–1973)
from African American Almanac
Poet, Novelist

Arna Bontemps was one of the most productive black writers of the twentieth century. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, and raised in California, Bontemps received his B.A. from Pacific Union College in Angwin in 1923. The next year his poetry first appeared in Crisis magazine, the NAACP periodical edited by W.E.B. DuBois. Two years later, Golgotha Is a Mountain won the Alexander Pushkin Award, and in 1927, Nocturne at Bethesda achieved first honors in the Crisis poetry contest. Personals, Bon-temps's collected poems, was published in 1963.

In the late 1920s Bontemps decided to try his hand at prose, and over the next decade produced such novels as God Sends Sunday (1931); Black Thunder (1936); and Drums at Dusk (1939).

His books for young people include We Have Tomorrow (1945) and Story of the Negro (1948). Likewise of literary merit are such children's books as Sad-Faced Boy (1937) and Slappy Hooper (1946). He edited American Negro Poetry and two anthologies with Langston Hughes among others.

In 1968 he edited a volume of children's poetry. Other publications were One Hundred Years of Negro Freedom (1961); Anyplace But Here (published in 1966 in collaboration with Jack Convoy); Black Thunder (reprinted 1968); Great Slave Narratives (1969); The Harlem Renaissance Remembered: Essays (1972, 1984); and The Old South.

Bontemps died on June 4, 1973, of a heart attack.

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