This article argues that the sculptor May Howard Jackson, a figure overlooked to this point in Toomer studies, played a formative role in Toomer’s development as a thinker and writer. Scrutiny of their relationship sheds new light on the development of Toomer’s modernist sensibilities and aesthetic, despite the paucity of extant materials from his pre-Cane period. Analyzing Jackson’s portrait bust of Jean Toomer, his essay “Art in Washington,” and the unpublished play Natalie Mann demonstrates that Toomer’s racial theorizing owes a considerable debt to Jackson, and that she served as the impetus for many of his experiments with form.

You do not currently have access to this content.