Fire!!

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For other uses, see Fire! (disambiguation).

Fire!! was an African-American literary magazine published in 1926 during the Harlem Renaissance. The publication was started by Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, Aaron Douglas, John P. Davis, Richard Bruce Nugent, Gwendolyn Bennett, Lewis Grandison Alexander, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes. After it published one issue, its quarters burned down, and the magazine ended.

History[edit]

Fire!! was conceived to express the African-American experience during the Harlem Renaissance in a modern and realistic fashion, using literature as a vehicle of enlightenment. The magazine's founders wanted to express the changing attitudes of younger African Americans. In Fire!! they explored edgy issues in the Black community, such as homosexuality, bisexuality, interracial relationships, promiscuity, prostitution, and color prejudice within the Black community.[1]

Langston Hughes wrote that the name was intended to symbolize their goal "to burn up a lot of the old, dead conventional Negro-white ideas of the past ... into a realization of the existence of the younger Negro writers and artists, and provide us with an outlet for publication not available in the limited pages of the small Negro magazines then existing.".[2] The magazine's headquarters burned to the ground shortly after it published its first issue.[3] It ended operations.

Reception[edit]

Fire!! was plagued by debt and encountered poor sales. It was not well received by the Black public because some felt that the journal did not represent the sophisticated self-image of Blacks in Harlem. Other readers found it offensive for many reasons, and it was denounced by Black leaders such as the Talented Tenth, "who viewed the effort as decadent and vulgar".[4] They disapproved of content relating to prostitution and homosexuality, which they considered degrading to "the race." They also thought many pieces published were a throw-back to old stereotypes, as they were written in the slang and language of the southern vernacular. They felt the "undignified" contents reflected poorly on the Black race. As an example, the critic at the Baltimore Afro-American wrote that he "just tossed the first issue of Fire!! into the fire".[5]

But, The Bookman applauded the journal's unique qualities and its personality.[6] Although this magazine had only one issue, "this single issue of Fire!! is considered an event of historical importance."[7]

Features[edit]

The magazine covered a variety of literary genres: it includes a novella, an essay, stories, plays, drawings and illustrations, and poetry.[8]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover Designs.................................................................................................Aaron Douglas
Foreword
Drawing...........................................................................................................Richard Bruce
Cordelia The Crude, A Harlem Sketch................................................................Wallace Thurman
Color Struck, A Play in Four Scenes..................................................................Zora Neale Hurston
Flame From The Dark Tower.............................................................................A Section of Poetry

                                        Countee Cullen                 Helene Johnson

                                        Edward Silvera                  Waring Cuney

                                        Langston Hughes              Arna Bontemps

                                                            Lewis Alexander

Drawing..........................................................................................................Richard Bruce
Wedding Day, A Story.....................................................................................Gwendolyn Bennett
Three Drawings...............................................................................................Aaron Douglas
Smoke, Lilies And Jade, A Novel, Part I...........................................................Richard Bruce
Sweat, A Story................................................................................................Zora Neale Hurston
Intelligentsia, An Essay...................................................................................Arthur Huff Fauset
Fire Burns, Editorial Comment..........................................................................Wallace Thurman
Incidental Art Decorations................................................................................Aaron Douglas

Representation in other media[edit]

The story of the rise and fall of Fire!! is showcased in the 2004 movie Brother to Brother. It features a gay African-American college student named Perry Williams. he befriends an elderly gay African American named Bruce Nugent. Williams learns that Nugent was a writer and co-founder of Fire!!, and associated with other notable writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, A., & Johnson, R.(1979). Propaganda and Aesthetics: The Literary Politics of Afro-American Magazines in the Twentieth Century (pp. 80-81). Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press.
  2. ^ Samuels, W. (2000). "From the wild, wild west to Harlem's literary salons", Black Issues Book Review, 2(5), 14. Retrieved July 10, 2008, from Academic Search Elite database.
  3. ^ Hutchinson, George, dir. (2007) The Cambridge Companion to the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ "Drop me off in Harlem", Arts Edge, Kennedy Center, Retrieved July 10, 2008
  5. ^ Harris, E. (1999). "Renaissance men", Advocate. Retrieved July 11, 2008, from MasterFILE Premier database.
  6. ^ The Bookman: A Review of Books and Life (September 1926-February 1927), (November 1926), Vol. LXIV (pp. 258-59). George H. Doran Company Publishers.
  7. ^ Reuben, P. "Chapter 9: Wallace Thurman, PAL: Perspectives in American Literature: A research and reference guide. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
  8. ^ Negro Periodicals in the United States: Series II 1826-1950 (1970). Fire!!: Devoted to Younger Negro Artists. Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press.

External links[edit]