© Paul P. Reuben
Chapter 10: Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Page Links: | Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |
| A Brief Biography |
Site Links: | Chap. 10: Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page | November 3, 2011
A Street in Bronzeville, 1945.
Annie Allen. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood P,1971. (1949) PS3503.R7244 A7
Maud Martha, a novel. NY: AMS P, 1974. (1953) PS3503.R7244 M3
Bronzeville Boys and Girls, 1956.
The bean eaters, poems. NY: Harper,1960. PS3503.R7244 B4
Selected poems. NY: Harper & Row,1963. PS3503.R7244 A6
In the Mecca; poems. NY: Harper & Row,1968. PS3503 R7244 I5
Riot. Detroit: Broadside P, 1969. PS3503.R7244 R5
Family pictures. Detroit: Broadside P,1970. PS3503.R7244 F3
The world of Gwendolyn Brooks. NY: Harper & Row,1971. PS3503 R7244 A6
Jump bad; a new Chicago anthology. Detroit: Broadside P,1971. PS508 N3 B74
A broadside treasury, 1965 1970. Detroit: Broadside P,1971. PS591 N4 B66
Aloneness. Illustrated by Leroy Foster. Detroit: Broadside P,1971. PS3503.R7244 A68
Report from part one. Prefaces by Don L. Lee and George Kent. Detroit: Broadside P, 1972. PS3503 R7244 Z524
The Tiger Who Wrote White Gloves, or What You Are You Are, 1974.
A Capsule course in Black poetry writing. Detroit: Broadside P, 1975. PN1064 .C35
Beckonings, poems. Detroit: Broadside P, 1975. PS3503 R7244 B43
Primer for Blacks, 1980; Young Poet's Primer, 1980; To Disembark, 1981; Very Young Poets, 1983; The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems, 1986; Blacks (omnibus), 1987; Children Coming Home, 1991.
Selected Bibliography 1980-Present
Alexander, Elizabeth. The Black Interior. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf, 2004.
Bomarito, Jessica, Jeffrey W. Hunter, and Amy Hudock. eds. Feminism in Literature: A Gale Critical Companion. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2004.
James, Jennifer C. A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2007.
Kent, George E. A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Lexington : UP of Kentucky, 1990.
Lowney, John. History, Memory, and the Literary Left: Modern American Poetry, 1935-1968. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2006.
Madhubuti, Haki R., ed. Say That the River Turns: The Impact of Gwendolyn Brooks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987.
Melhem, D. H. Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry and the Heroic Voice. Lexington : UP of Kentucky, 1987. PS3503 .R7244 Z76
Miller, R. Baxter. Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks: a reference guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978. Z8423.3 .M54
Mootry, Maria K. and Gary Smith. eds. A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fiction. Urbana : U of Illinois P, 1987.
Shaw, Harry B. Gwendolyn Brooks. Boston: Twayne, 1980. PS3503.R7244 Z88
Showalter, Elaine. ed. The Vintage Book of American Women Writers. NY: Vintage, 2011.
Walters, Tracey L. African American Literature and the Classicist Tradition: Black Women Writers from Wheatley to Morrison. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Young, John K. Black Writers, White Publishers: Marketplace Politics in Twentieth-Century African American Literature. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2006.
A Student Project by Patricia Roland
Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas on June 7, 1917 to parents Keziah Corinne Wims and David Anderson Brooks. She grew up in Chicago, an introspective and shy girl who was an avid reader and enjoyed writing verse. At the age of 14, she had her first poem published, beginning what would be a tremendous future as a remarkable poet (DLB 100). Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College during the Depression and took jobs doing domestic and secretarial work to support herself. In the 1930s, she served as publicity director for the NAACP Youth Council in Chicago, but kept on writing. In 1939, she marries Henry L. Blakely and the two later have a son, Henry L. and a daughter, Nora. By the end of the 1940s, her poetry was being published in Harper's, Poetry, and The Yale Review. In 1945, Brooks first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, is published; a powerful collection of poems that poignantly illustrate life in the black Chicago community where she lives. She picks up momentum with this publication and by 1950 is the first black woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her second collection of poetry, Annie Allen. It would be many years before another black woman, Rita Dove, is awarded the Pulitzer for her Thomas and Beulah (DLB 100).
Brooks' life then begins to unfold into a tremendous success as she publishes more than twenty collections of poetry, a fictional work, Maud Martha, then Report From Part One: An Autobiography, edits the magazine, Black Position, and Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology. She goes on to enjoy teaching careers at various institutions including: "Northeastern Illinois University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Columbia College in Chicago, Elmhurst College, and City College, City University of New York where she was Distinguished Professor of the Arts." (DLB 100) In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois. She served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1985-86. She has received various awards including: An American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Frost Medal, A National Endowment for the Arts Awards, The Shelley Memorial Award and two Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships. However, Brooks reveals in her autobiography that the most moving and memorable award ever given to her was the one presented on December 28,1969 at the Afro-Arts Theater on Chicago's South Side, because it came from many of the young black artists of Chicago (DLB 100 and Shaw 13).
Brooks has to be given more recognition than just an accomplished poet of the 20th Century, and as anyone can see, she is indeed more than that. Brooks' voice in the struggle for social and racial equality is quietly powerful. She writes the world around her and asks that others see the truth in her words. Her themes include: "the search for dignity and happiness the twin oppressions racism and poverty, life in the American family and the shock of war." (DLB 101) She is a powerful voice for social equality, especially during the tumultuous times of the civil rights. Like Whitman, Brooks is a voice for "large groups of people," and has indeed been influenced by such writers as Emerson, Frost, Dunbar, Hughes, T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson (DLB 101).
There is much to be admired in a woman who lives through the Depression, receives the first Pulitzer Prize for a black woman at a time wrought with civil injustices, and has the strength and courage to write a poem which I think coherently illustrates the wisdom and incredible strength of Gwendolyn Brooks; the poem is "A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi." Brooks passed away in 2000.
Dictionary of Literary Biography. ed. Donald J. Greiner. Detroit: Gales Research Company, 1980, vol. 5. pp100-106.
Shaw, Harry B. Gwendolyn Brooks. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980: 13.
MLA Style Citation of this Web Page
Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 10: Gwendolyn Brooks." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL:http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap10/brooks.html (provide page date or date of your login).
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