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Gwendolyn Brooks by Nicole Silverstone and Erin Kuntz

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 3 months ago

 Gwendolyn Brooks was a spectacular writer who allowed a glimpse into the African-American way of life and reflected in her writing the hardships and racial struggles that she faced. She was born on June 17, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, and published her first poem when she was only thirteen years old. Brooks was the first African-American writer to receive both the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 and also selected to be part of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1976. (wikipedia.com) The main theme that is predominant in her writing is the focus of growing up as an African-American, and the pressures of living as an individual who always struggles to be accepted. Before her death by cancer in 2000, she lived to see the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center constructed in her honor. Although she was a hugely popular and successful writer, Brooks always referred to herself as "an ordinary human being who is impelled to write poetry." (Artist Biography: Gwendolyn Brooks)
We Real Cool  
by:Gwendolyn Brooks 






We real cool. We

Left school. We



Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We



Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We



Jazz June. We

Die soon.


“We Real Cool” is a poem that was written in 1966 but portrays the Harlem renaissance. Painting the image of young adults skipping school because they think their cool. Listening to the music of sin in the eye’s of the gospel. Swaying the body in motions that could only be related to the devil. Sweating to the heat filled room in the middle of summer until the night cools the summer’s day. Drinking the forbidden, but thinning it out so that nobody will take notice. Being cool in this time wasn’t the way of the church. In fact most church followers cursed those who fell into this jazz and blues scene. The reasons behind that is because many blues and jazz musicians were taking gospel songs and rhythms and putting very sinful words in them. The perspective of this poem is coming from a young adult, maybe a teenager, who has found themselves in this jazz scene. Perhaps maybe even running away from the church. It's very clear that this poem takes place in a musical atmosphere, were some people might not be fond of it. It definately paints an image of a strong musical influence, until the last line. This may signify the death of culture or maybe to music itself. Although this poem is short, it definately makes the reader feel smooth.

The Bean Eaters 

by Gwendolyn Brooks 
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.
Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.
And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Gwendolyn wrote the poem “Bean Eaters” to show the life of an impoverished African-American couple. Even though they have lived a hard and deprived life, they are still content and at the end of the day can sit back and remember their full lives. The setting of the poem is in the couple’s home, and many emotions can be evoked while reading it. From the couple’s “plain chipwear” and their “tin flatwear”, the scene is set for two people who have lived their lives with close to nothing. A sense of feeling sorry for the couple can overcome the reader, but Brooks’ wrote the poem as a way for readers to see how ethnicity shapes the view of one’s life. Rather than feel sorry for themselves, the elderly couple feels a sense of accomplishment as they remember the past. The author’s own experiences as an African-American who faced racial struggles growing up helped her to have a first-hand insight into these characters lives.










  • "Gwendolyn Brooks." poemhunter.com. 2006. poemhunter.com. 25 April 2007 <www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-bean-eaters>.









Comments (8)

Anonymous said

at 8:45 am on May 10, 2007

I like the pictures, they were a nice touch. The poemWe Real Cool was very interesting, the lay out was something I have never seen before. Even though it was a confusing poem I liked the way it was set up and I think your take on it was fitting. Good job. It was also interesting to learn about Gwendolyn's back ground, I've never heard of her before. That is so awesome that she has a culture center in honor of her, what a huge accomplishment, Ashley Czepa

Anonymous said

at 9:15 am on May 10, 2007

We are surprised that you guys got this much information out of these short poems. After reading the explanations we understood the poems a lot better. You guys did a good job with this. We like beans too!
From: Jake Erickson and Savannah Bastian

Anonymous said

at 9:28 am on May 10, 2007

Great choice on the pictures! Congrats on seeing so much meaning in such small poems, I surely wouldn't have! Great Job!

Anonymous said

at 9:30 am on May 10, 2007

I really liked your page, good work and good analysis of your poems. I thought the first one that you put on there was really interesting it was short but sweet.

Anonymous said

at 9:35 am on May 10, 2007

The pictures were a nice add to the page. I enjoyed the first poem. I didn't know that jazz and blues were looked down upon back then. Great job!

Anonymous said

at 9:35 am on May 10, 2007

great job! I like the description for that first poem, we real cool. I was thinking the same thing as your explanation. Harlem and Jazz had always fantasized me. Your paragraph on Brooks was very well explained, I felt like I learned about her alot in the short period. =) -KatyKelley

Anonymous said

at 9:44 am on May 10, 2007

I'm so glad you picked "We Real Cool"; when we had to pick out a poem we liked at the beginning of the poetry unit this is the one that I picked. I love the Rhythm of this peice. it is very smooth and even though it talks about death it still leaves me with a pleasent -jazzy- feeling.

Anonymous said

at 9:49 am on May 10, 2007

"We Real Cool," was an interesting poem. It is amazing how she was able to sum up an entire scene or idea in a couple of words. Very nice layout.

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