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Blacks Paperback – January 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize (1950). She was also the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress and the Poet Laureate of Illinois.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Third World Press (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883781050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883781050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Aurin Squire on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gwendolyn Brooks is one of my favorite poets and this anthology of her work gives a glimpsing answer to the question 'why?' "Blacks" is a veritae encyclopedia of the America experience written in Brooks' lucid but unsettling style.
It's people like T.S Eliot which make us think art is an inclusive privilege of a born, elite few. And then artists -like Brooks- go right along and prove that, at its best, art is inclusive, fun and thought-provoking. Rather than tying itself up in esoteric knots, Brooks' poetry flows along personal but recognizable paths that most blacks have experienced at one time or another.
I go to Northwestern U. and we've had the privilege of her speaking at our school many times. And after meeting her my respect only grew.
Forever "young, gifted and black" Gwedolyn Brooks deserves nothing less than the attention given to the likes of Langston Hughes or Phylis Wheatley. This books shows us why.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lou on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
Its been a few years since I thought about this book. I was searching around suggested items from Amazon, and memories of this great writer came rushing back to me. This book is a collection of poems, short stories, a novel, highlights from several decades of excellent writing. I wish Chicago would do more to honor her like Europe honors their great writers regardless of race. Anyway, Ms. Brook's poetry is influenced by the classical literature she studied during her time and she takes that style to the south side of inner city of black Chicago. The results are poems that feel quiet, calm, much like the demeanor she displayed when she was alive. However she can communicate anger, depression , anguish, without hitting you across the head with it. This changes a little when you read through some of her sixtites work such as the "Riot" which describes the riot in the sixties after Dr. King was assasinated. I find myself missing her reading "We real cool" but at least I have this and other books from her memory alive in me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on October 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Blacks" is a collection of several decades' worth of the work of Gwendolyn Brooks, who is one of the most significant figures in 20th century American poetry. At over 500 pages long, "Blacks" is a truly monumental text. Included are several books in their entirety ("Annie Allen," "In the Mecca," etc.) as well as excerpts from some later books ("Primer for Blacks," "The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems," etc.). Although most of the books represented are works of poetry, "Blacks" also contains the text of Brooks' 1953 novel "Maud Martha."
Brooks is a stylistic virtuoso, proficient with the sonnet, ballad, free verse, and other forms. She is an expert with alliteration, rhyme, and other musical effects. Her vocabulary is encyclopedic; she evokes not only African-American vernacular speech, but also the entire sweeping history of the literary tradition in English. In this collection are both short poems and longer poems.
Many of Brooks' poems deal with aspects of African-American life. She writes of anti-Black violence and other forms of racism, and reflects upon enduring figures in African-American cultural history. She also writes of family relationships and intimate personal crises.
Her novel, "Maud Martha," is a poetic chronicle of the life of a dark-skinned urban Black girl. We follow Maud Martha through her girlhood, marriage, and motherhood. "Maud Martha" is a memorable vision of an African-American woman's life, and, in my opinion, should stand beside such literary works as Harriet Jacobs' "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and Audre Lorde's "Zami.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on June 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
A collection of poetry by Brooks, probably the most honored African- American poet. It also includes "Maud Martha," Brooks' single novel to date. I liked the novel, but felt it was a little too much for me. I like poetry, but I think I like it in small doses, where I can relax and read and reread it without concentrating on how much time it is taking me to do so. Her fiction is like poetry, in the sense that it had as much to do with the vision of things as it did with the characterization or the plot. This is my failing as a reader: I've never cared that much for description, and the longer it continues, the more likely I am to tune out.
But the short poems here, especially from her earlier period, I like a lot. The subjects are strong and powerful, the economy and purpose of the prose admirable. One of my favorites was a poem called "Queen of the Blues," which contrasted the stage persona of a Billie Holliday-like singer with the treatment she receives as an African-American woman. Queen or no queen, she still has the blues. Or "The Murder," about a young boy who sits his toddler brother on fire then doesn't understand when the little brother isn't around afterwards. I did not care as much for her later poems, which were much more experimental in form and harder to follow in content.
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