Paul Laurence Dunbar House: Poetry Spotlight

For this week’s poetry spotlight, I’m going to focus close to home–or at least, close to where I grew up and will always call home. Since I grew up in and around Dayton, Ohio, let’s take a look at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House.

By the way, I appreciate the poetry spotlight ideas people have sent my way. Keep them coming at with the subject line: Poetry Spotlight Idea.


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Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Paul Laurence Dunbar was a poet, novelist, and playwright born in Dayton, Ohio, to former Kentucky slaves. Born in 1872, Dunbar grew in fame with his dialect poems, though he also wrote traditional verse. In fact, my favorite rondeau is Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.”

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is located on 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar St. in Dayton, Ohio. It is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free for both children and adults.

In 1936, the Ohio General Assembly made the Dunbar house the first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House opened to the public in 1938. A capital improvement project completed in 2003 returned the Dunbar House to its appearance at the time when Paul Laurence Dunbar and his mother, Matilda, lived there from 1903 until he died in 1906.

The house features many of Dunbar’s personal items and his family’s furnishings, including his bicycle (built by the Wright brothers); the desk and chair where the poet composed much of his work; his collection of Native American art; and a ceremonial sword that President Theodore Roosevelt presented to him.

Learn more here.


Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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3 thoughts on “Paul Laurence Dunbar House: Poetry Spotlight

  1. tripoet

    Thank you, Robert. This is very interesting information on a poet whose work I love. Is it just me or does anyone else feel that Paul Lawrence Dunbar should receive more recognition for the the image, “The caged bird”, which we find in “Sympathy? ” “I know what the caged bird feels, alas!” “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me.”

      1. tripoet

        I hadn’t realized all this about PLD. I only knew that I loved his work. This gives me a way to go back and read/study him. I certainly didn’t know about his home being an historical cite. I like this addition to your blog. Accessorizes the poet and poem nicely.


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