Gwendolyn Brooks American Poet June 7, 1917 to December 3, 2000 Created by Jennifer Kempka
The Biography Born in Topeka Kansas Highest Level of Education: Associate of Literature and Arts Wilson Junior College, 1936 Brooks was thirteen when her first published poem, "Eventide," appeared in American Childhood Magazine in 1930 . Gwendolyn Brooks first published collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945) Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship, 1946-1947. Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen , 1950. Robert F. Ferguson Memorial Award (Friends of Literature) for Selected Poems, 1964. Shelley Memorial Award, 1976. Taught poetry at numerous colleges and universities, including University of Wisconsin-- Madison, 1969 Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize Her writing career took off in the year 1962 when she was invited by John F. Kennedy to read at a poetry festival. In 1989 at the Chicago Poetry Festival, Gwendolyn Brooks was presented the lifetime achievement award Total Number of Publications: Brooks wrote more than 20 books and hundreds of poems Died December 3, 2000 in Chicago Illinois of Cancer
Major Works A Street in Bronzeville , 1945 Annie Allen, 1949 Maud Martha , 1953 Bronzeville Boys and Girls , 1956 The Bean Eaters , 1960 Selected Poems , 1963 In The Mecca: Poems , 1968 Riot , 1969 Family Pictures , 1970 Aloneness , 1971 The World of Gwendolyn Brooks , 1971 Report from Part One , 1972 The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves , 1974 Beckonings , 1975 Primer for Blacks, 1980 Young Poets Primer, 1980 To Disembark, 1981 Black Love, 1982 Mayor Harold Washington, 1983 Very Young Poets, 1983 The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems, 1986 Blacks 1987 Winnie, 1988 Children Coming Home, 1991 A Broadside Treasury, 1971
Excerpt The following poem is from Gwendolyn Brooks’s first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville. I have chosen this quote because I liked what it was about. It talks about a girl who wants to experience life, be adventurous and do her own thing.“a song in the front yard”BY GWENDOLYN BROOKSI’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.I want a peek at the backWhere it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.A girl gets sick of a rose.I want to go in the back yard nowAnd maybe down the alley,To where the charity children play.I want a good time today.They do some wonderful things.They have some wonderful fun. Gwendolyn Brooks wrote this poemMy mother sneers, but I say it’s fine comparing the life of a young black girl toHow they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine. the life of a young white girl. She usesMy mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae symbols and situational irony in her poems.Will grow up to be a bad woman. Brooks, was an African American womanThat George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late writing a poem in which a white girl wanted(On account of last winter he sold our back gate). to be a part of the African American culture . Had Brooks not been symbolic with herBut I say it’s fine. Honest, I do. message, perhaps the public would not haveAnd I’d like to be a bad woman, too, accepted this poem from an AfricanAnd wear the brave stockings of night-black lace American author.And strut down the streets with paint on my face.
Critical ResponseThe following review of A Street in Bronzeville by Gary Smith is the book in which my poem is from. “The critical reception of A Street in Bronzeville contained, in embryo, many of the central issues in the scholarly debate that continues to engage Brookss poetry. Yet, while noting her stylistic successes, not many critics fully understood her achievement in her first book. This difficulty was not only characteristic of critics who examined the formal aspects of prosody in her work, but also of critics who addressed themselves to the social realism in her poetry. Moreover, what Brooks gained at the hands of critics who focused on her technique, she lost to critics who chose to emphasize the exotic, Negro features of the book. The poems in A Street in Bronzeville actually served notice that Brooks had learned her craft well enough to combine successfully themes and styles from both the Harlem Renaissance and Modernist poetry. She even achieves some of her more interesting effects in the book by parodying the two traditions. She juggles the pessimism of Modernist poetry with the general optimism of the Harlem Renaissance. Because of the affinities A Street in Bronzeville shares with Modernist poetry and the Harlem Renaissance, Brooks was initiated not only into the vanguard of American literature, but also into what had been the inner circle of Harlem writers. The first clue that A Street in Bronzeville was, at the time of its publication, unlike any other book of poems by a Black American is its insistent emphasis on demystifying romantic love between Black men and women. The “old marrieds,” the first couple encountered on the walking tour of Bronzeville, are nothing like the youthful archetype that the Renaissance poets often portrayed. In A Street in Bronzeville, this romantic impulse for idealizing the Black woman runs headlong into the biting ironies of intraracial discrimination. In poem after poem in A Street in Bronzeville, within the well-observed caste lines of skin color, the consequences of dark pigmentation are revealed in drastic terms. For Brooks, unlike the Renaissance poets, the victimization of poor Black women becomes not simply a minor chord but a predominant theme of A Street in Bronzeville. Few, if any, of her female characters are able to free themselves from the web of poverty and racism that threatens to strangle their lives. However, since the publication of A Street in Bronzeville, Brooks has not eschewed the traditional roles and values of Black women in American society; on the contrary, in her subsequent works, Annie Allen (1949), The Bean Eaters (1960), and The Mecca (1968), she has been remarkably consistent in identifying the root cause of intraracial problems within the Black community as white racism and its pervasive socio-economic effects. Furthermore, as one of the chief voices of the Black Arts Movement, she has developed a social vision, in such works as Riot (1969), Family Pictures (1970), and Beckonings (1975), that describes Black women and men as equally integral parts of the struggle for social and economic justice.”
Additional Resources http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19694 Includes A photo, Career, Biography, Bibliography and Poems. http://www.washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping/brooks/index.html Includes photos, Biography, Published Work, Writing Samples, Artifacts and additional links. http://www.nathanielturner.com/gwenbrooksbio.htm Includes pictures, poems, links to purchase her books, and a biography.
Works Citedo "Gwendolyn Brooks." Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 10 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.o "Brooks, Gwendolyn (Elizabeth)." Merriam Websters Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 9 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.o "Brooks, Gwendolyn (Elizabeth)." Merriam Websters Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 12 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.o "Gwendolyn Brooks." Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 12 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.o "Gwendolyn Brooks." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 12 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.o Smith, Gary. "Gwendolyn Brookss A Street in Bronzeville, the Harlem Renaissance and the Mythologies of Black Women." MELUS. 10.3 (Fall 1983): 33-46. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Vol. 49. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988. 33-46. Literature Resource Center. Gale. MILWAUKEE AREA TECH COLLEGE. 12 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=milatc_main>.
Pictures taken from the following sites: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi- bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6331201 bancroft.berkeley.edu/.../119/gbrooks.ht ml http://www.findagrave.com/cgi- bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6331201 www.washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping /brooks/ clarke.cmich.edu/Dudley/books.htm