Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was a tour de force African-American poet who won the highest awards in American literature for her work, beginning with being the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950.
According to modernamericanpoetry.org:
“Chicago’s South Side Black ghetto has always figured heavily in her work; she is in a way a poet of that neighborhood. Yet out of it came poems addressing the general status of race in America in a style that mixes international modernism with local experience. Brooks worked hard and successfully to reach a broad popular audience, but her poems are also deeply challenging.”
A playground park at 4532 South Greenwood Avenue is named after this lifelong Chicago resident, and it features a bronze bust of the writer. Be sure to bring some of her poetry with you to read there if you choose to take this stop on a sunny day.
The George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library, in Bronzeville, was a gathering place for Black Renaissance writers of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Bronzeville, known as the “Black Metropolis,” is in the historic South Side of Chicago. An excellent description, history and video can be found here: Chicago Sun Times. The population of Bronzeville, Illinois, is similar to a mid-to-small size town.
Read examples of poetry written at and about Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks here: Poem Hunter.
“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.” –Gwendolyn Brooks
A Gwendolyn Brooks doll, like the one pictured on this page, can be ordered from Uneek Doll Designs through Etsy.
This is the fourth stop on our Illinois Author Adventures Trail.