Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Literature, Poetry

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gbrooks_1This weeks’s People of America programme on Voice of America focuses on Black poet and writer Gwendolyn Brooks.   In 1950 Ms Brooks became  the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature for her book of poems, "Annie Allen".   In 1994 she was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the Jefferson Lecturer, the highest award in the humanities given by the Federal Government.

Along with Langston Hughes  and Sterling Brown  Gwendolyn Brooks is very much a part of the  Black American poetry  experience.  Although she  maintained  a formal English verse tradition her work centered around the Black experience.   This included her move in the late 1960s away from the large publishing houses to smaller Black ones and her involvement in the Black Arts Movement.


you did not know you were Afrika

When you set out for Afrika
you did not know you were going.
you did not know you were Afrika.
You did not know the Black continent
that had to be reached
was you.

I could not have told you then that some sun
would come,
somewhere over the road,
would come evoking the diamonds
of you, the Black continent–
somewhere over the road.
You would not have believed my mouth.

When I told you, meeting you somewhere close
to the heat and youth of the road,
liking my loyalty, liking belief,
you smiled and you thanked me but very little believed me.

Here is some sun. Some.
Now off into the places rough to reach.
Though dry, though drowsy, all unwillingly a-wobble,
into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo.
Your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done.

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  1. One of my all time favourite poems is this one 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.

    I don’t know why I love it so much, maybe it’s the simple use of language in which she manages to encapsulate so much, maybe it’s because it so well describes a particular period of my life, luckily long past. Anyway, I still love the poem.

  2. Katherine

    I like it alot. This is the first poem that I heard of Gwendolyn Brooks. she is an amazing poet and I love all of her poems that I have heard. When I found out all this infor on her, it touched my heart. She really knows how to get in someone’s mind. She knows that most people will like her poems, because they ar about things that everyone goes through. She is just amazing and thats all I have to say. We will always miss you forever.

  3. Sabrina

    The poems are great just to sit and ponder on ones true feelings are amazing.