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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 Mother

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 - 2000
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed
	children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
	and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?--
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.

From A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harper & Brothers. © 1945 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

From A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harper & Brothers. © 1945 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
	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
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
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.