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Selected Poems Paperback – July 3, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Annie Allen and one of the most celebrated African American poets. She was Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois, a National Women's Hall of Fame inductee, and a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received fifty honorary degrees. Her other books include A Street in Bronzeville, In the Mecca, The Bean Eaters, and Maud Martha.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 59043rd edition (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060882964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060882969
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is fine anthology. Unfortunately it doesn't include her later work. But the poetry is so compelling that I purchased another anthology that does have later work.
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Format: Paperback
Everything changed in the 1960s, but the seeds of change were planted long before. One of those seeds was the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, an explosion of African-American culture centered in New York and embracing literature, music, theater, painting, and more. Associated with the renaissance were names like Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, W.E. B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes. It was an amazing period in African-American cultural history, and an amazing period for African-American poets and poems. One of the beneficiaries of the period was poet Gwendolyn Brooks.

Almost 40 years after the renaissance, Brooks (1917-2000) wrote this poem about Langston Hughes:

Langston Hughes (1963)

is merry glory.
Is salutatory.
Yet grips his right of twisting free.

Has a long reach,
Strong speech,
Remedial fears.
Muscular tears.

Holds horticulture
In the eye of the vulture
Inform profession.
In the compression—
In mud and blood and sudden death—
In the breath
Of the holocaust he
Is helmsman, hatchet, headlight.
See
One restless in the exotic time! and ever,
Till the air is cured of its fever.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Brooks spent virtually her entire life in Chicago. Her parents, a janitor and a schoolteacher, enouraged her desire for reading and writing. She published her first poem at 13, and her first poetry collection at 28. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950; she was 33 and the first African-American to win any Pulitzer Prize. Later she became the first African-American woman to become consultant to the Library of Congress (which we now call Poet Laureate).
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Format: Paperback
It is a pleasure to have read a book and been inspired by a true master.
Gwendolyn Brooks delivers a collection of outstanding poetry of the deepest level that had even this humble poet amazed, confused, bedazzled, in search of a dictionary and overall enamoured by the breadth of magnificent words and stories that are shared by the remarkable writer.
The future of poetry feels more secure when I happily muse about the masses of writers that Gwendolyn Brooks has inspired and still will inspire.
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Various editions of "Selected Poems" by the late Gwendolyn Brooks are floating around, most of which only have differences in layout or binding. All have the core poems that defined Brooks as one of America's poets with a social conscience.

In the spirit of Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes, and occasionally, Robert Frost, her poetry meets the reader head-on. However, to Brooks' credit, and what makes her a great poet, is she sees the big picture, just her greatly skilled colleagues listed above.

Brooks was black. She neither hid it, nor would be ashamed that I said so. Many of her poems revolved around the issues impacting African Americans, both the responsibility they have, as well as an acknowledgment of the difficulties they endure because of racism and cultural differences.

Her poems will survive (and are worth reading today) because they were not shackled to the political milieu of the day. What she wrote in the 1940s, when racism was bolder and more detrimental than today, matters.

She was current, yet eternal. Even though "The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till" refers to a young man murdered decades ago, the reader without that context will still appreciate its common-spoken depth (her indents are diminished in my copy below because of the software to post this):

after the murder,
after the burial

Emmett's mother is a pretty-faced thing;
the tint of pulled taffy.
She sits in a red room,
drinking black coffee.
She kisses her killed boy.
And she is sorry.
Chaos in windy grays
through a red prairie.
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Format: Paperback
These poems are important historically as well as poetically. Brooks shows mastery of the genres of her time but fiercely maintains both her own style--usually quite readable, sometimes a bit puzzling--and her observations of life around her in the African-American community. Most poems, which span decades years in this book, stick to life as people in those communities knew it and leave the politics implicit, but sometimes a righteous politics come to the fore. I enjoyed the recently added observations at the end.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book to an18 year old poet and she memorized several of the poems immediately. She loved the book and is interested in buying another collection by Brooks
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