Poems “Icarian Wings” and “The King is Dead! Long Live the King”, in The Clintonian, June 1921/ Twenty-first Annual of the De Witt Clinton High School. Original cloth. 7.5 x 10 inches, 116 pages. Extensively illustrated with photographs
Cullen was a 17 year-old junior when his poems appeared in the yearbook of the all-boys’ New York City school, which boasts an “array of alumni that has no equal in influencing American life” (such as Richard Rodgers, Romare Bearden, Burt Lancaster, Stanley Kramer, Irving Howe, Paddy Chayefsky, James Baldwin, Richard Avedon, Neil Simon and Ralph Lauren). Cullen also appears as the only African-American in several group photographs, including a small literary club then headed by senior Lionel Trilling, the future literary critic, and is named as the Gold Medal winner of the Douglas Fairbanks Oratorical Contest.
When he graduated the following year, Cullen was valedictorian, editor of the school newspaper, associate editor of the Magpie, the school literary and art journal, and had already won a city-wide award for his very first published poem, which appeared in newspapers months before this yearbook - the start of his brilliant literary career, though his first book of poetry did not appear until four years later.
(See also in this sale, an original invitation to Cullen's ill-fated wedding to the daughter of W.E.B. DuBois, the Black "social event of the decade.")