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Waring Cuney Is the Best Harlem Renaissance Poet You’ve Never Heard OfShe does not knowHer beauty,She thinks her brown bodyHas no glory.If she could danceNakedUnder palm trees,And see her image in the riverShe would know.But there are no palm trees On the street,And dish water gives back no images.In 1926, the poem “No Images,” by nineteen-year-old Waring Cuney, won a literary contest hosted by Opportunity, a prominent magazine of Black culture published by the National Urban League. The poem’s subject is a Black domestic worker or cafe employee standing at the sink washing dishes, worn down by poverty and internalized racism. “No Images” was anthologized in a 1931 collection of Black poetry and reprinted in publications across Europe. Decades later, Nina Simone transformed it into a haunting song she sometimes performed a cappella. The poem remains by…

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