Russell Atkins was born in 1926 in Cleveland and still lives there. For a time, Atkins enjoyed a national and even international reputation. He corresponded with Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, and Clarence Major, who all championed his work. His poem “Christophe” was published by Langston Hughes in The Poetry of the Negro 1946–1970. The early concrete poem “Trainyard at Night” was read by Marianne Moore on the radio. He is mentioned in Stuckenschmidt’s Twentieth Century Music (he was also a composer and music theorist). He is perhaps best known as the editor of Free Lance, for many years the only journal dedicated to publishing African American poetry. The first issue appeared in 1952 with an introduction by Langston Hughes; it ran until its twentieth volume was published in 1980, a nearly unheard-of longevity among small press magazines.