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Search tags: Gwendolyn-Brooks
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review 2014-03-10 10:14
The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

I bought this tiny book of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems about a year and a half ago. I picked it up and read two orIMG_0114three 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.
Source: didibooksenglish.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-essential-gwendolyn-brooks
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review 2013-10-30 17:53
Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
Selected Poems (P.S.) - Gwendolyn Brooks

This is the most well-known set of Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry. Many of these poems were published in various magazines and literary journals, and now they're finally brought together in one collection.


If you're into rhythmic poetry, take a look at this collection. If "We Real Cool" is the only poem of Brooks you know, then you're barely scratching the surface. She has a way of grafting more meaning into a couple of lines of texts and empty spaces than any poet I've ever read.


Life for my child is simple, and is good.
He knows his wish. Yes, but that is not all.
Because I know mine too.
And we both want joy of undeep and unabiding things, like kicking over a chair or throwing blocks out a window
Or tripping over an icebox pan
Or snatching down curtains or fingering an electric outlet
Or a journey or a friend or an illegal kiss.
No. There is more to it than that.
It is that he is never afraid.
Rather, he reaches out and lo the chair falls with a beautiful
And the blocks fall, down on people's heads,
And the water comes slooshing slopily out across the floor
And so forth.
Not that success, for him, is sure, infallible.
But never has he been afraid to reach.
His lesions are legion.
But reaching is his rule.


— — — — —


I'd like to thank Ryan from HarperCollins for sending me the anniversary edition to enjoy.

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review 2012-08-18 00:00
Maud Martha - Gwendolyn Brooks I really enjoyed Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry so I was interested to read her only novel. I really loved this book; it was a quick easy read, with short chapters that said so much. The book has vignettes of Maud Martha's life from childhood through adulthood. It touches on colourism in the African-American community, as well as love, motherhood and other topics.
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review 2012-07-01 00:00
Selected Poems - Gwendolyn Brooks Selected Poems - Gwendolyn Brooks This is the first book of poetry I've read in years! I really enjoyed it. One of my favourite poems in it was this one :

To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but
You know you are tasting together
The winter, or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes
Because your pulse must not say
What must not be said.
When he
Shuts a door-
Is not there_
Your arms are water.
And you are free
With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half
Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth
To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare
Is certain Death!
Oh when to apprize
Is to mesmerize,
To see fall down, the Column of Gold,
Into the commonest ash.
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review 1999-03-01 00:00
Blacks - Gwendolyn Brooks A collection of poetry by Brooks, probably the most honored African- American poet. It also includes "Maud Martha," Brooks' single novel to date. I liked the novel, but felt it was a little too much for me. I like poetry, but I think I like it in small doses, where I can relax and read and reread it without concentrating on how much time it is taking me to do so. Her fiction is like poetry, in the sense that it had as much to do with the vision of things as it did with the characterization or the plot. This is my failing as a reader: I've never cared that much for description, and the longer it continues, the more likely I am to tune out.

But the short poems here, especially from her earlier period, I like a lot. The subjects are strong and powerful, the economy and purpose of the prose admirable. One of my favorites was a poem called "Queen of the Blues," which contrasted the stage persona of a Billie Holiday-like singer with the treatment she receives as an African-American woman. Queen or no queen, she still has the blues. Or "The Murder," about a young boy who sits his toddler brother on fire then doesn't understand when the little brother isn't around afterwards. I did not care as much for her later poems, which were much more experimental in form and harder to follow in content.

A correspondent also complained about the later poems, bothered by their lack of rhyme and lack of clear purpose. While it is true that the latter selections don't rhyme, it's not true that not all of it doesn't. A LiveJournal user posted their essay on "Queen of the Blues," along with the entire poem. I think it shows that Brooks has something to say and does so fairly clearly, although any poetry worth anything contains subtext and imagery that deepens with increased familiarity.
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