Thursday, March 23, 2017

Black Poet In History: Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks – 1917-2000

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an American poet and teacher who was born on June 7, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas. She was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer prize when she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 for her second collection, Annie Allen. Throughout her career she received many more honors. […]

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an American poet and teacher who was born on June 7, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas. She was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer prize when she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 for her second collection, Annie Allen. Throughout her career she received many more honors. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968, a position held until her death[ and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.

Brooks published her first poem in a children’s magazine, American Childhood, when she was 13 years old. By the time she was sixteen, she had compiled a portfolio of around 75 published poems and had her work critiqued by poet and novelist James Weldon Johnson. At seventeen, she started submitting her work to “Lights and Shadows,” the poetry column of the Chicago Defender, an African-American newspaper. Her poems, many published while she attended Wilson Junior College, ranged in style from traditional ballads and sonnets to poems using blues rhythms in free verse.
Her characters were often drawn from the inner city life that Brooks knew well. She said, “I lived in a small second-floor apartment at the corner, and I could look first on one side and then the other. There was my material.”[3] Brooks taught extensively around the country and held posts at Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, City College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks died on December 3, 2000[3] in Chicago, IL.

We Real Cool
By Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

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