"Fire Burns": An Avant-garde Journal for the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was at a high point in 1926, which saw the publication of such notable works as W.C. Handy's Blues: An Anthology, Langston Hughes's first collection of poetry, The Weary Blues, Eric Walrond's Tropic Death, and the birth of a new journal, Fire!! Conceived in response to the desire of younger black artists for a periodical concerned solely with the arts, Fire!! was established by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Wallace Thurman. Edited by Thurman, the first issue included among its contributors the best and the brightest of "younger negro artists," many of whom would become legendary figures in the annals of the Harlem Renaissance. Unfortunately, the quarterly received mixed reviews; younger artists around the country were impressed by its boldness, but the black press and the black middle class thoroughly panned it. (For the first issue, Thurman's editorial comment was titled "Fire Burns.") Because of the financial difficulties in bringing Vol. 1, No. 1 to press, it was the only issue ever published. The table of contents page of the Schomburg Center's copy of the first (and last) issue bears the autographs of a number of the contributors, including Richard Bruce, Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, Helene Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Arna Bontemps, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Aaron Douglas, who designed the covers.

Fire!! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists. New York. 314 West 138th Street. Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 1926).
The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

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