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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 (The David Co., 1987); To Disembark (Third World Press, 1981); The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (The David Co., 1986); Riot (Broadside Press, 1969); In the Mecca (Harper & Row, 1968); The Bean Eaters (Harper, 1960); Annie Allen (Harper, 1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize; and A Street in Bronzeville (Harper & Brothers, 1945).

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

In 1968 she was named poet laureate for the state of Illinois. In 1985, she was the first black woman appointed as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, a post now known as Poet Laureate. 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
Children Coming Home (The David Co., 1991)
Winnie (The David Co., 1988)
Blacks (The David Co., 1987)
The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (The David Co., 1986)
To Disembark (Third World Press, 1981)
Beckonings (Broadside Press, 1975)
Aurora (Broadside Press, 1972)
Aloneness (Broadside Press, 1971)
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (Harper & Row, 1971)
Riot (Broadside Press, 1970)
Family Pictures (Broadside Press, 1970)
In the Mecca (Harper & Row, 1968)
The Wall (Broadside Press, 1967)
We Real Cool (Broadside Press, 1966)
Selected Poems (Harper & Row, 1963)
The Bean Eaters (Harper, 1960)
Bronzeville Boys and Girls (Harper, 1956)
Annie Allen (Harper, 1949)
A Street in Bronzeville (Harper & Brothers, 1945)

Prose
Primer for Blacks (Black Position Press, 1981)
Young Poet’s Primer (Brooks Press, 1981)
A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing (Broadside Press, 1975)
Report from Part One: An Autobiography (Broadside Press, 1972)
Maud Martha (Harper, 1953)

 

Beverly Hills, Chicago

(“and the people live till they have white hair”)
E. M. Price

The dry brown coughing beneath their feet,
(Only for a while, for the handyman is on his way)
These people walk their golden gardens.
We say ourselves fortunate to be driving by today.

That we may look at them, in their gardens where
The summer ripeness rots. But not raggedly.
Even the leaves fall down in lovelier patterns here.
And the refuse, the refuse is a neat brilliancy.

When they flow sweetly into their houses
With softness and slowness touched by that everlasting gold,
We know what they go to. To tea. But that does not mean
They will throw some little black dots into some water and add sugar and the juice of the cheapest lemons that are sold,

While downstairs that woman’s vague phonograph bleats, “Knock me a kiss.”
And the living all to be made again in the sweatingest physical manner
Tomorrow. . . . Not that anybody is saying that these people have no trouble.
Merely that it is trouble with a gold-flecked beautiful banner.

Nobody is saying that these people do not ultimately cease to be. And
Sometimes their passings are even more painful than ours.
It is just that so often they live till their hair is white.
They make excellent corpses, among the expensive flowers. . . .

Nobody is furious. Nobody hates these people.
At least, nobody driving by in this car.
It is only natural, however, that it should occur to us
How much more fortunate they are than we are.

It is only natural that we should look and look
At their wood and brick and stone
And think, while a breath of pine blows,
How different these are from our own.

We do not want them to have less.
But it is only natural that we should think we have not enough.
We drive on, we drive on.
When we speak to each other our voices are a little gruff.

Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions.

Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks, who wrote more than twenty books of poetry in her lifetime, was the first black woman appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.

by this poet

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.

2
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
2

collected in

collection
This year marks Brooks’s centennial, and to celebrate, we’ve created t...