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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)

 

The Mother

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, was the first black woman appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.

by this poet

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
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
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