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20150419Gwendolyn Brooks was an African American poet whose imagination, conscience and passion for words made her the first black poet to win the Pulitzer Prize, in 1950. Narrated by her daughter Nora Brooks Blakely, this is a portrait of her life through the voices of friends and fellow poets - including Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti and Sharon Olds.
Gwendolyn Brooks published her first poem at thirteen and by the time she was sixteen she was publishing in local newspapers serving Chicago's black population. Early critics welcomed Brooks as a new voice, 'a real poet writing poignant social documents.'
Her poems are portraits of the ordinary people she observed from day to day. She moulded them into memorable characters like Annie Allen, Rudolph Reed and Satin Legs Smith. Her deepest compassion though was for young people, particularly struggling youth. Her most famous poem, We Real Cool, is about children skipping school. It's still spoken aloud today by school children who learn it by heart.
Brooks believed she had a social and political role as a poet and became one of the most visible articulators of the "black aesthetic" as the Black Arts Movement took off in the late 1960s. Her commitment to nurturing black literature led her to leave major publisher Harper & Row in favour of a fledgling black company. When she was appointed to the post of poet laureate of Illinois in 1968, she used her role to visit schools, prisons, and rehabilitation centers to help people 'see the poetry in their lives.' She always claimed her greatest achievement was teaching people that poetry isn't a formal activity but an art form within the reach of everybody.
Produced by Sarah Cuddon
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
2015041920150425 (R4)Gwendolyn Brooks was an African American poet whose imagination, conscience and passion for words made her the first black poet to win the Pulitzer Prize, in 1950. Narrated by her daughter Nora Brooks Blakely, this is a portrait of her life through the voices of friends and fellow poets - including Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti and Sharon Olds.
Gwendolyn Brooks published her first poem at thirteen and by the time she was sixteen she was publishing in local newspapers serving Chicago's black population. Early critics welcomed Brooks as a new voice, 'a real poet writing poignant social documents.'
Her poems are portraits of the ordinary people she observed from day to day. She moulded them into memorable characters like Annie Allen, Rudolph Reed and Satin Legs Smith. Her deepest compassion though was for young people, particularly struggling youth. Her most famous poem, We Real Cool, is about children skipping school. It's still spoken aloud today by school children who learn it by heart.
Brooks believed she had a social and political role as a poet and became one of the most visible articulators of the "black aesthetic" as the Black Arts Movement took off in the late 1960s. Her commitment to nurturing black literature led her to leave major publisher Harper & Row in favour of a fledgling black company. When she was appointed to the post of poet laureate of Illinois in 1968, she used her role to visit schools, prisons, and rehabilitation centres to help people 'see the poetry in their lives.' She always claimed her greatest achievement was teaching people that poetry isn't a formal activity but an art form within the reach of everybody.
Produced by Sarah Cuddon
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
We Real Cool: The Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks20150419

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  • Documentaries / Factual / Arts / Culture and the Media / History

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