When the poet Gwendolyn Brooks “writes out of her heart, out of her rich and living background, out of her very real talent,” said The New York Times, “she induces almost unbearable excitement.” From her “headquarters” in Chicago, Brooks spent her life writing poems about the joys and struggles of the Black Americans on the streets around her. A consummate artist with full command of her craft, along with an insatiable curiosity and a deep well of empathy, Brooks produced more than 20 volumes of poetry and other works over the span of a 70-year publishing career. She was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize (in any category); the first Black American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a national poet laureate; the poet laureate of Illinois for 38 years–and those are just some of her many accomplishments and honors. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and works of this indelible American poet. PLUS we get another visit from Professor Mira Sundara Rajan for a sneak preview of our forthcoming episode on the “Supreme Poet” C. Subramania Bharati.
Additional listening suggestions:
- We looked at another great Black American woman writer of the twentieth century in Episode 310 – Lorraine Hansberry.
- Two of Gwendolyn Brooks’s forerunners took center stage in our episode on the friendship between Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes (with biographer Yuval Taylor)..
- We looked at a great poetic love story (but one with a surprising twist) in Episode 95 – The Runaway Poets – Triumphant Love Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.
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