Synopses & Reviews
"If you wanted a poem," wrote Gwendolyn Brooks, "you only had to look out of a window. There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing." From the life of Chicago's South Side she made a forceful and passionate poetry that fused Modernist aesthetics with African-American cultural tradition, a poetry that registered the life of the streets and the upheavals of the 20th century. Starting with A Street in Bronzeville
(1945), her epoch-making debut volume, The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks
traces the full arc of her career in all its ambitious scope and unexpected stylistic shifts.
"Her formal range," writes editor Elizabeth Alexander, "is most impressive, as she experiments with sonnets, ballads, spirituals, blues, full and off-rhymes. She is nothing short of a technical virtuoso." That technical virtuosity was matched by a restless curiosity about the life around her in all its explosive variety. By turns compassionate, angry, satiric, and psychologically penetrating, Gwendolyn Brooks's poetry retains its power to move and surprise.
Since she began publishing her tight lyrics of Chicago's South Side in the 1940s, Gwendolyn Brooks took her place as one of the most influential American poets of the 20th century, distilling modernist style through the sounds and shapes of a variety of African-American forms and Idioms. Now Elizabeth Alexander, one of our leading experts on African-American literature and culture, presents a sweeping new selection of Brooks's poetry.
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
Elizabeth Alexander is the author of three poetry collections, including Antebellum Dream Book, as well as a collection of essays, The Black Interior.