[By Crystal Boson]
Jean Toomer’s Cane is a beautiful modernist text that captures the binaries that are most easily associated with Black literary lives of the early 20th century: The North versus the South and the rural laid against the urban. In its entirety, the work follows the trail of the Great Migration, starting South, heading North, and concluding in a liminal space that is in simultaneously neither and both location. The first section of the book focuses upon the trappings that situate the Southern landscape as a site of horror and oppression. The poem “Portrait in Georgia” calls up the spectre of lynching, and places it in conversation with images of inter and intra racial social violence, present in Blood-Burning Moon, Karintha and Becky. The Southern landscape is not entirely demonized; the poems “Song of the South” and “November Cotton Flower” hold glimpses of beauty.