Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most innovative poets in the literary landscape of America. Born in 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn’s family moved when she was young to the far more urbane city of Chicago, a street-smart influence that still informs her work. Brooks wanted to bring poetry to the poor black kids of the inner city. She did—rapid fire, tightly wound iambic pentameter that predated rap and won her the distinction of being the first black person to receive the Pulitzer Prize (for Annie Allen in 1950). In later life, she took a more radical bent, hooking up with revolutionary black Beat LeRoi Jones (now Amiri Baraka) and Don L. Lee, and jumping into the causes of African Americans with both feet. She became a tough and angry Black Power poet penning verses grounded in classical style deconstructed through the lens of her newfound racial awareness and commitment to cause. Forty years after her prize-winning feat, her poetry is still raw, fresh, and commanding.
“I want to clarify my language. I want these poems to be free. I want them to be directed without sacrificing the kind of music, the picturemaking I’ve always been interested in.”
— Gwendolyn Brooks
Original post here!