Poet and editor Margaret Esse Danner grew up in Chicago and was educated at Loyola University, Roosevelt College, Northwestern University, and YMCA College. She was the first African American assistant editor at Poetry magazine, during Henry Rago’s tenure as editor. As a member of the South Side Community Art Center, she met with a group of writers that included Margaret Goss Burroughs and Gwendolyn Brooks. Danner also corresponded frequently with the poet Langston Hughes.
Her poetry often engages African artwork and culture. Her collections of poetry include Impressions of African Art Forms (1960), To Flower (1963), Nor Light, Nor Bright, Nor Feathery (1968), and The Down of a Thistle: Selected Poems, Prose Poems, and Songs (1976) as well as the collaboration Poem Counterpoem (1966) with Dudley Randall. Her work was included in Langston Hughes’s anthology New Negro Poets (1963) and in the audio recording Poets of the Revolution (1970), also with Langston Hughes.
Danner served as poet-in-residence at Wayne State University and LeMoyne Owen College and received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship, the Harriett Tubman Award, the Poets in Concert Award, and the African Studies Association Award. Danner joined the Baha’i faith in the 1960s. She died in Chicago in 1984, and the University of Chicago holds a selection of her papers.