Gwendolyn Brooks - West Fargo Public Schools

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Biography
List of
Works
Sample
Poems
Inspired
Poems
Original
Poems
Bibliography
Presented by
Derek Dreher
Gwendolyn Brooks’ Venture into the World of Poetry
“I felt that I had to write. Even if I had never been published, I knew that I would go on writing,
enjoying it and experiencing the challenge” (Brainyquote.com).
Biography
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Bibliography
This was said by Gwendolyn Brooks, who started to write at a very young age and never stopped
until the day she died. The very prestigious and influential poet Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born in
Topeka, Kansas on June 7, 1917 (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1). She was the oldest child of her family.
Growing up Brooks was very shy, later on in life she addressed this by saying, “I am a writer perhaps
because I am not a talker” (Brainyquote.com). Her mother, Keziah Brooks’ profession was teaching kids
in rural areas. Her father, David Brooks, worked as a janitor after he couldn’t complete school because of
lack of funding (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1). Brooks didn’t live in Topeka for long; after she was born her
family moved to South Side Chicago, Illinois (“Gwendolyn Brooks Biography”, Encyclopedia of World
Biography 3). Brooks was an African American woman, so during this time period she saw a lot of racism
throughout Chicago. This is where she received much of her influence on what the subject of her poetry
would be about. She was a very timid child and didn’t really fit in as a regular kid in Chicago. Her parents
were very loving but strict at the same time. They didn’t allow her to go and play with kids from the
neighborhood, so she stayed inside and spent most of her time writing (“Gwendolyn Brooks Biography “,
Famous Poets and Poems 1). She became very isolated from her peers, so she often created a fantasy
world of her own by writing her own poetry or reading poetry of other authors. Brooks’ parents were very
supportive and encouraged her writing and wanted her to become a successful poet. They often referred to
her as “the female Paul Lawrence Dunbar”, who was a famous African American poet (“Gwendolyn
Brooks Biography”, Encyclopedia of World Biography 1). Brooks worked all over Chicago helping out
youth groups of African Americans. In 1937 she became the publicity director of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1). Later on in 1939, she
married Henry Blakely with whom she had two children, Henry Jr. and Nora Blakely (“Gwendolyn Brooks
Biography”, Famous Poets and Poems 1). In 1941 she began observing poetry workshops at Chicago’s
South Side Community Art Center (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1).
Biography
List of
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Sample
Poems
Inspired
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Bibliography
In 1963 she received her first teaching job at Chicago’s Columbia College (“Gwendolyn Brooks Biography”,
Famous Poets and Poems 1). Growing up and living on the South Side of Chicago for her whole life she
experienced racism every day until the day she died from cancer on December 3, 2000 (“Gwendolyn Brooks
Biography”, Encyclopedia of World Biography 3). Brooks once said,” Look at what's happening in this
world. Every day there's something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that's going on, how could I
stop” (Brainyquote.com). With actions like these occurring, she wanted to show the lives of African
Americans and what they experienced on a daily basis through her writing.
Brooks experienced a lot of racism in her life, so she liked to incorporate that into her poets.
Since she had a lot of time to herself as a kid, she spent most of her time inside her house writing as much as
she could. She mostly wrote about her life experiences or what she say happening in the world around her.
By the age of sixteen, she had over seventy five of her own poems published. After she graduated from high
school in 1935, her writing career began to escalate from there. In 1936 she graduated from Wilson Junior
College with a degree in English. Brooks became a very prestigious poet. One of many awards the she
received was a poetry award from the Midwestern Writer’s Conference in 1943 (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1).
She was the first African American women to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for her group of poems called
Annie Allen that she published in 1949, this influenced the African American community.. In her entire
poetry career she received over 70 honorary degrees from many associations and colleges. She was also
inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 3). She was also the first African
American to receive an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in 1976 (“Gwendolyn Brooks
Biography” ,Famous Poets and Poems 1). In Brooks’ early life she received support from Langston Hughes
and James Weldon Johnson whose style influenced hers.
Biography
List of
Works
Sample
Poems
Inspired
Poems
Original
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Bibliography
Like that of Hughes, Brooks liked to focus on the lives of urban blacks who
experienced racism and poverty in their lives. The style of her poetry varied widely throughout her
career. In the first half of her career, she was mainly concerned with compiling poems that were
more traditional and had to be understood by in depth thinking (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1). During
this period of her career she liked to be strict on her word form, and she used intricate word play
that the reader really had to decipher to comprehend (“Gwendolyn Brooks Biography”,
Encyclopedia of World Biography 2). By the second half of her career, she spent most of her time
writing poems that were free verse and used language that urban African Americans could
comprehend more easily (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 1). Brooks wanted to change up her tone, be more
direct and she wanted to increase the reader’s racial awareness. She did this by switching up her
writing style to free verse, and she started to change her vocabulary to vernacular, which would be
more understandable for the African American culture (“Gwendolyn Brooks Biography”,
Encyclopedia of World Biography 2). She liked to focus on racism, sexism, and classism through
the eyes of an African American during her time period (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 2). Brooks made
many contributions to her society in Chicago such as, working in many youth centers and
encouraged kids in her community to express their feelings through poetry. Brooks also inspired
many poets through lecturing, teaching, hosting poetry competitions, reading poetry to the public,
and visiting schools; even prisons (“Gwendolyn Brooks” 3). She was a very influential poet, and
she said that she has never officially retired from writing. She has inspired many poets, and she has
shown the public what it is like to live as an African American through her poems. Brooks was one
of the few successful African American poets of her time; she will always be remembered for her
outstanding contributions to the public and for being the first African American women to win a
Pulitzer Prize. Without the attributions of Brooks through her poetry, the American public would
not have understood what it was like to live as an African American in poverty. Through her poetry
Brooks has really demonstrated what it is like to be a minority. Which was a word Brooks has a
strong hatred toward being called a minority. She once said,” Don't let anyone call you a minority if
you're black or Hispanic or belong to some other ethnic group. You're not less than anybody else”
(Brainyquote.com).
Biography
List of
Works
Sample
Poems
Inspired
Poems
Original
Poems
Bibliography
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (1971)
Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali
(1971)
A Broadside Treasury (1971)
Jump Bad. (1971)
The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or What You
Really Are, You Really Are (1974)
Beckonings (1975)
Primer for Blacks (1980)
To Disembark (1981)
Very Young Poets--Reprints of several works
above (1983)
Blacks (1987)
Children Coming Home (1988)
Gottschalk and the Grande Tarantelle (1988)
Winnie--Reprint from The Bean Eaters (1988)
A Street in Bronzeville (1945)
Annie Allen (1949)
Maud Martha (1953).
The Bean Eaters (1960)
In the Mecca
Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956).
We Real Cool (1966)
Report from Part One (1972)
Primer for Blacks (1980)
Young Poets' Primer (1981)
Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago, the I
Will City (1983)
Blacks (1987)
An Autobiography
Riot (1969)
Family Picutres. (1970)
Aloneness (1971)
Analysis Poem
Analysis
Introduction Poems
“We Real Cool”
“My Dreams, My Works, Must
Wait Till After Hell”
“Sadie and Maud”
“The Crazy Women”
by Gwendolyn Brooks
(inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks)
By Derek Dreher
Biography
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Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine toothed comb.
She didn't leave a tangle in
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
In all the land.
Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.
When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie left as heritage
Her fine-toothed comb.)
Maud, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.
Jim went to school
Mark prowled the street
Mark went through life
Feeling meek
He regrets all the ruthless actions he has committed
Not one citizen cared for him
But one person
And that was Jim
Mark wanted to break his habits
He wanted to pick his life up from the ground
With the help of a friend
Mark could turn things around
Jim’s heart has grown again
Friends and enemies have seen Mark change
Without the help of his friend
He would still be treated like a dog with mange
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Biography
List of
Works
Sample
Poems
Inspired
Poems
Original
Poems
Bibliography
I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I'll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.
(inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks)
by Derek Dreher
June makes my heart ache
Everyone has too much fun
I will wait until the fall
Days filled with joy will soon be done
I'll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I'll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.
I will wait until fall
This is the time I most enjoy
Venturing out on a crispy night
And setting out to destroy
And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
"That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May."
And all the people in the town
Will think about me and say something soon
“Darn Old Man Winter
I wish it was June
•
“The Portentous Beast”
“Ode to My Bed”
“Things Not Right”
by Derek Dreher
The prowling cruelty gleams me alone and undiscovered
I crave the twilight
It leisurely immerses itself into my darkened heart
Soon I desire to compose myself and scavenge the shadows
Biography
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The sea of dawn’s light washes away
The blissful dream of the obscurity of night
On the sun-lit dawn sky, an ominous storm lurked
Foreshadowing another day all alone
Trying to make it through the daytime
To loiter in the night once again
Waiting precariously
Sleeping unsoundly
Biography
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•
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Here I lay tired and drowsy
Mind racing
Oh bed, why must you be so comfortable?
Please take away my daily stressors
Do so by using your softness, and warmness
You’re always there to clear my head
Always curing my sickness and sleeplessness
Although you may be old and dusty
You are there
My soft sheets will protect me
like a mother bear and her cub
So please take me away on another slumberous night
To Original
Poems
By Derek Dreher
Biography
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Mournful hate
Rage inside
While will it end
Things not right
An uncouth mouth
Spiteful lingering hatred
When will it end?
A life to short
Sequence never ending
A sudden stop
when will it end
Out in night
Such fear
Now it’s time
What goes around
Comes back
again
“to the Diaspora” by Gwendolyn Brooks
you did not know you were Afrika
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When you set out for Afrika
you did not know you were going.
Because
you did not know you were Afrika.
You did not know the Black continent
that had to be reached
was you.
I could not have told you then that some sun
would come,
somewhere over the road,
would come evoking the diamonds
of you, the Black continent-somewhere over the road.
You would not have believed my mouth.
When I told you, meeting you somewhere close
to the heat and youth of the road,
liking my loyalty, liking belief,
you smiled and you thanked me but very little believed me.
Here is some sun. Some.
Now off into the places rough to reach.
Though dry, though drowsy, all unwillingly a-wobble,
into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo.
Your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done.
Biography
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Sample
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Inspired
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One of Gwendolyn Brooks’ most notable poems is, “To the Diaspora”, in
which she uses imagery but she mostly, she liked to focus on free verse. In the second
half of Brooks’ career, she liked to use free verse and speak in vernacular dialect that
her community could more easily understand. This poem expresses how the African
community was dispersed and sent to America where they have been treated unlawfully
for years. Brooks is trying to put a positive spin on the situation by saying it is a fresh
start for her race and they should do the best they can to achieve the ideals they deserve.
She is trying to convince the people that even though the conditions aren’t what they
want, they should still stand up for themselves and keep the journey for gaining respect
going. Brooks refers to the sun as the hope or the faith they should maintain to reach
the conditions that are more suitable “Here is some sun. Some/ Now off into the places
rough to reach/ though dry, though drowsy, all unwilling a-wobble/ into the dissonant
and dangerous crescendo/your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done”.
Through reading these lines there are examples of imagery and free verse that are
demonstrated. She is using imagery to show how her writing this poem is giving her
community hope, or “sun”. There is no rhyme or rhythm throughout these lines, so
exhibits the use of free verse. Brooks liked to use free verse so she could be more
direct and upfront with the topics in her poems. This poem was more directed to the
African American community, and without the use of free verse the poem wouldn’t
have been as easy to comprehend. Brooks liked to keep her poems thought-provoking
by using imagery. With the use of many poetic devices and styles of poems throughout
Brooks’ career, she was very influential to the African American community and wanted
them to regain hope by writing, “Somewhere over the road/ would come evoking the
diamonds/ of you, the Black continent—“.
I choose this poem because it is a very good example of her best work in the beginning of her
poetry career. This poem is about children in Brooks’ neighborhood that like to skip school and stay out
late. The last line in “We Real Cool” really stuck out to me; it really ties into the other lines of the poem.
“We Die soon” is a result of leaving school and lurking late, which binds the whole poem together.
“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks
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We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.
To
Introduction
Poems
Gwendolyn Brooks incorporated the life of the poverty stricken citizens in the Chicago
community. Through this poem she tells what it is like to experience hunger and be told you can’t eat.
The line, “And none can give me any word but Wait” struck me with anguish. Through Brooks’ poetry
you really can comprehend the idea of what it would be like to be living in the world of poverty.
Biography
List of
Works
Sample
Poems
Inspired
Poems
Original
Poems
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“My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell” by Gwendolyn Brooks
I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep my eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.
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http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/brooks/brooks-biobib.html
http://www.notablebiographies.com/Br-Ca/Brooks-Gwendolyn.html
http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/gwendolyn_brooks/biography
http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/brooks_g.htm
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/gwendolyn_brooks.html
http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap10/brooks.html
http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/gwendolyn_brooks/photo
http://hakeem786.blogspot.com/2011/04/cool-wallpapers_12.html
http://wallpaperstock.net/aligned-street-lights-wallpapers_w11517.html
http://www.paintingsilove.com/image/show/90516/african-woman

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