About this poet

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, on June 7, 1917, and raised in Chicago. She was the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including Children Coming Home (The David Co., 1991); Blacks (1987); To Disembark (1981); The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986); Riot (1969); In the Mecca (1968); The Bean Eaters (1960); Annie Allen (1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize; and A Street in Bronzeville (1945).

She also wrote numerous other books including a novel, Maud Martha (1953), and Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972), and edited Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology (1971).

In 1968 she was named poet laureate for the state of Illinois, and from 1985-86 she was consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lived in Chicago until her death on December 3, 2000.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

A Street in Bronzeville (1945)
Aloneness (1971)
Annie Allen (1949)
Aurora (1972)
Beckonings (1975)
Black Love (1981)
Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (1971)
Blacks (1987)
Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956)
Children Coming Home (1991)
Family Pictures (1970)
In the Mecca (1968)
Riot (1970)
Selected Poems (1963)
The Bean Eaters (1960)
The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986)
The Wall (1967)
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (1971)
To Disembark (1981)
We Real Cool (1966)
Winnie (1988)

Prose

A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing (1975)
Primer for Blacks (1981)
Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972)
Very Young Poets (1983)
Young Poet's Primer (1981)

Fiction

Maud Martha (1953)


Multimedia

From the Image Archive

 

The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 - 2000
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood, 
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

From The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harpers. © 1960 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

From The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harpers. © 1960 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks, who wrote more than twenty books of poetry in her lifetime, served as Illinois poet laureate and consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.

by this poet

poem
                   THE POOL PLAYERS. 
                   SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.



We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

poem
	arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment
   League
Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair,
The pink paint on the innocence of fear;
Walk in a
poem
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover's tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won't be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have