Gwendolyn Brooks

When Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was an infant, her family moved from Topeka, Kansas to the South Side of Chicago. She began writing poetry as an elementary school student; her first published poem appeared in the children’s magazine American Childhood when she was just 13 years old. While in high schools and junior college, Brooks became a frequent contributor of poems to the Chicago Defender, an African-American newspaper.

Drawing her material from her neighborhood and its residents as well as her own experiences with racial injustice, Brooks published her first book of poetry in 1945, A Street in Bronzeville. More than twenty books of poetry followed including Annie Allen (1949) for which Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize. She was named the poet laureate of Illinois in 1968 and the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress (a post now known as Poet Laureate of the United States) in 1985. In 1976, Brooks was the first African-American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Why this stop? The Red Line 63rd Street station is a few blocks from Englewood High School from which Brooks graduated.

Listen to Gwendolyn Brooks describe the genesis of one of her early poems The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel (aka We Real Cool)

Photo Credit--Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection