"Probably the finest black poet of the post-Harlem generation." — Robert F. Kiernan
Selected Poems is the classic volume by the distinguished and celebrated poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, winner of the 1950 Pulitzer Prize, and recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. This compelling collection showcases Brooks’ technical mastery, her warm humanity, and her compassionate and illuminating response to a complex world.
About the Author
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917—2000) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Annie Allen and one of the most celebrated Black poets. She also served as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position. She was the poet laureate for the state of Illinois for over thirty years, a National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, and the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her works include We Are Shining, Bronzeville Boys and Girls, A Street in Bronzeville, In the Mecca, The Bean Eaters, and Maud Martha. You can find out more about her at www.gwendolynbrooks.net.
Read an Excerpt
A Street in Bronzeville
We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. "Dream" makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like "rent," "feeding a wife," "satisfying a man."
But could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday's garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms
Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?
We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.
What People are Saying About This
"Miss Brooks has a very fine talent...a faculty which is becoming rare in contemporary poetry: an interest not merely in her own responses, but in other people as well."
"She is a very good poet, the only superlative I dare use in our time of misusage; compared...to the best of modern poets, she ranks high."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I didn't particularly enjoy this collection. I've been teaching "We Real Cool" for years, and I never get tired of it, so I looked forward to a larger sampling of Brooks' work, but I don't really think there is anything here I'll come back to. Undeniably, Brooks knows words and sound, but this honestly came down to feeling like a poet's playtime to me. It seemed heavy on experimentation with sound and very quick scenes, and light on meaning. For someone who is just starting to play with the sound of poetry and explore it's uses, away from the traditional and expected rhymes and rhythms, I could recommend this, but for me---well, I was often bored, and rarely satisfied or drawn into the poems themselves.
Brooks' poems are deep, complicated, sometimes hard to understand, but heart-warming, funny and moving. Everyone will like SOMETHING about this collection.
I like Gwendolyn Brooks. But I like poetry that tells a story more and this book didn't have much of it. My favorite poem was 'Bronzeville Woman in a Red Hat' because it was more my style of poetry, a hidden story being revealed by every line. I just wasn't feeling the poetry in this book. It seemed a little dry. I love 'We Real Cool' and classics like that, but I don't feel this book showcased Brooks' ability to tell a story and recite a poem at the same time.
This book is true to the core. It shows immotions in vivd color. No, not color of photographs but the color of words. She uses words in greater form than many other poets I know.
Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the masters of poetry. she is probably the greatest living poet, one of the best modern poets, and one of the better poets of all time. for anyone who loves poetry, their library shouldn't be without this volume.