The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

04 Mar

I bought this tiny book of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems about a year and a half ago. I picked it up and read two orIMG_0114 three poems and put it down.  Why?  I have no unearthly idea!   Insanity! What was I thinking?!  So when I was rummaging through the books on my shelves looking for something different to read for Black History month, I fell immediately on The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks and a eureka came out on contact.

I read the entire book of poems in about three hours.  I surely could have read it faster but I really wanted to soak up the rich language and ideas conveyed in them.  I remember having heard Maya Angelou recite We Real Cool when I was a teenager.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of studying Brooks’ poems in high school or at university.  While reading I wondered why that could have been.  How could such lyrical, moving, opulent, and culturally informative poetry be in essence left to the side?

Brooks’ poems speak about racism and African-American life.  She mainly wrote about what surrounded her.  She said,  “If you wanted a poem, you only had to look out of a window.  There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.” (The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, p. xvii)  Brooks wrote about 75 published poems by the time she turned sixteen years old.  So she never stopped trying to perfect her craft as a poet there after, while in turn writing poetry that reflected the times.  With tremendous passion, she was ingenious in writing her poetry in all types styles – blues, sonnets, jazz, ballads, free verse, and even enjambed like in her ever famous poem We Real Cool.

We Real Cool

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. 

Gwendolyn Brooks
What a wonderful way to celebrate Women Writers month by sneaking a peek at poems written by the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950.  So do you like to read poetry? If so, what are some of your favourites?  Let me know if you’ll be reading some novels or poetry written by women this month to honour women writer.
Check out this fantastic clip of Gwendolyn Brooks where she shares her thoughts on her writing, race, poetry, African-American women writers, etc.
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Book Reviews, Bookish Stuff


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9 responses to “The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

  1. lesreveriesderowena

    March 5, 2014 at 2:18 am

    Glad you liked it! I just re-read it for Black History Month and adored it:) She has a way with the language for sure.

  2. Dominique Taylor (Token In America)

    March 5, 2014 at 4:05 am

    This is incredible! I will definitely be getting this book this week! My favorite poem would probably be Ego Trippin’ by Nikki Giovanni, I always return to it when I need an encouraging reminder. :-)

  3. margaret21

    March 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I’m not someone who turns regularly to poetry, but I’m beginning to think it’s my loss. This looks a good place to start.

    • didibooksenglish

      March 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Yes it is. It goes down like a robust, smooth, flavourful glass of red wine. Enjoy!

      • margaret21

        March 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        There are more swear words than sonnets in this house at the moment – moving is STRESSFUL. But when we can find any books again…. there’s my New Home resolution sorted already :)

      • didibooksenglish

        March 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

        Good to hear and good luck with moving! :D


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