Gwendolyn Brooks's poetry plumbs our national psyche. She has for decades been a leading force in American poetry, illuminating for us all a little-understood dimension of American life. Accomplished in her craft from the first, Brooks developed a highly flexible line and multivocal language that have allowed her to move with authority between the lyric and the prophetic. Her work ranges from exquisite satire to lamentation; from precise microcosmic narratives of the human condition to apocalyptic meditations. She has accorded heroic stature to the lives of women in the African American community, while never ceasing to speak for and to that community as a whole. Her poetry holds up a mirror to the American experience entire, its dreams, self-delusions and nightmares. Her voice is inimitable.