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Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks
Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
The latest addition to the ‘She Changed the World’ collection!

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is one of the most celebrated poets in American history. Her work focused on what was happening in her community and the world around it, ranging from poems about the guys at the pool hall to deeply political issues. She is the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, as well as the Poet Laureate of Illinois from 1968 until her passing in 2000.

I find it difficult and out of place to write about someone who was so much more deft at the use of words than myself. I urge you to go read her works instead, spend some time with them and think about them. Start with The Mother, The Vacant Lot, A Song in the Front Yard, We Real Cool, and The Lovers of the Poor. They’re copyrighted and I want to respect her estate, but you can find them online at the Poetry Foundation or in collected book form. Spend some time with the way she illustrates ideas, let them open your eyes to another way of thinking.

The opening of A Song in the Front Yard reads:

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

Don’t let your perception of the world consist of only the front yard. Make sure you know about everything else happening around you, who the people are that inhabit those places, and what you can learn from them. Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry is a gateway to beginning that journey.

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