Waverley Turner Carmichael

Waverley Turner Carmichael was born in Alabama in the 1880s and spent most of his early life in the state. He attended the Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute, a school that had been started by a graduate of Tuskegee University. Later, Carmichael took a summer course at Harvard University, where the literary scholar James Holly Hanford encouraged Carmichael to publish a sheaf of poems that the young poet had shared with him. The result was Carmichael’s first and only volume, From the Heart of a Folk: A Book of Songs (The Cornhill Company, 1918). The volume, for which Hanford wrote an introduction, features poems written in dialect. Carmichael’s poetry is also featured in James Weldon Johnson’s seminal anthology The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922). 

During the First World War, Carmichael served with the ninety-second Infantry Division, an all-Black regiment nicknamed the “Buffaloes,” and saw combat in France. Carmichael, it seems, stopped publishing poetry and, later in life, lived in Boston, where he worked as a postal clerk. He likely died in 1936.