Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool.”

February is Black History Month, and a time for us to recognize the many contributions that African-Americans have made to literature and culture.  For today’s post, I’d like to showcase Gwendolyn Brooks. 

Brooks is one of my favorite poets, as my English 151 class can probably tell you.  Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1950, and was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.  In English 151, we recently read Brooks’ famous poem “We Real Cool” as part of our unit on poetic scansion.

“We Real Cool”

THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

This Poetry.org site also provides a sound clip of Brooks talking about and reading the poem, which one of my 151 students recently brought to my attention.

About areading

Amity Reading is an assistant professor of English at Albion College, where she teaches early British literature (specifically, medieval and Shakespeare). Her research centers on Anglo-Saxon devotional poetry and homilies.
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