Lewis Grandison Alexander was an American poet, actor, playwright, and costume designer who lived in Washington, D.C. and had strong ties to the Harlem Renaissance period in New York.
Alexander was born July 4, 1900, in Washington D.C. As a child, he was educated in the Washington public school system. Little biographical information is available on Alexander until, at the age of 17.
He began writing poetry; and took a special interest in Japanese forms including haiku, hokku, and tanka, he is one of few African American poets who took interest in this form of writing. Alexander studied at Howard University in Washington D.C. where he was an active member of the Howard Players, the school’s theater group. He later continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alexander’s notoriety as a poet can best be exemplified by his publications in many popular journals and magazines. Throughout his career, he was published regularly with other major Harlem Renaissance figures such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Countee Cullen.
Alexander also published literary works outside of the United States. In October 1926, he appeared in a special issue of The Palms, a poetic journal based in Guadalajara, Mexico. This special issue, edited by Countee Cullen included two poems by Alexander, “A Collection of Japanese Hokku” and “Dream Song”. Although he is best known for his work as a poet, Alexander was also a playwright, actor, and costume designer.
The sky hangs heavy tonight
Like the hair of a Negro woman.
The scars of the moon are curved
Like the wrinkles on the brow of a Negro woman.
The stars twinkle tonight
Like the glaze in a Negro woman’s eyes,
Drinking the tears set flowing by aging hurt
Gnawing at her heart
The earth trembles tonight
Like the quiver of a Negro woman’s eye-lids cupping tears…
Copyright 1927, by Harper & Row publishers.