po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

June 7 – Gwendolyn Brooks

                     Gwendolyn Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) 

Shortly after her birth in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks's family moved to Chicago. She grew up during turbulent racial times, the dynamics of which influenced her writing. Her parents encouraged her reading and writing, and her first poem was published when she was 13. At the age of 17 she wrote a poetry column for the Chicago Defender, where she published almost 100 of her poems.   

She married Henry Blakely in 1938 and had her first child in 1940. The family lived in Chicago's South side and she became active in poetry groups. In 1943 she won the Midwestern Writers Conference Poetry Award.

Her first book of poetry, published in 1945, brought her much critical acclaim. Prizes and awards followed, including in 1950 a Pulitzer Prize [the first African-American to do so]. Fellowships, grants and honorary degrees came her way.

In 1962, at the request of President John Kennedy, she read at a Library of Congress poetry Festival. The following year, she began teaching poetry and creative writing at a number of institutions. In 1967, after attending A Black Writers' Conference, she became more involved in the Black Arts movement in Chicago, and in 1968 she was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois. In 1985 she became poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.

A prolific writer, she wrote, besides poetry, essays, articles, stories, and novels. In 1994, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her to receive the Jefferson Lecturer, which is the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.

   My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell by Gwendolyn Brooks

      I hold my honey and I store my bread
      In little jars and cabinets of my will.
      I label clearly, and each latch and lid
      I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
      I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
      And none can give me any word but Wait,
      The puny light. I keep my eyes pointed in;
      Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
      Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
      On such legs as are left me, in such heart
      As I can manage, remember to go home,
      My taste will not have turned insensitive
      To honey and bread old purity could love

              A Sunset of the City by Gwendolyn Brooks

      Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
      My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
      Are gone from the house.
      My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
      And night is night.

      It is a real chill out,
      The genuine thing.
      I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
      Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.

      It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.
      The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,
      The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.

      It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes
      I am aware there is winter to heed.
      There is no warm house
      That is fitted with my need.

      I am cold in this cold house this house
      Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls.
      I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs.
      I am a woman who hurries through her prayers.

      Tin intimations of a quiet core to be my
      Desert and my dear relief
      Come: there shall be such islanding from grief,
      And small communion with the master shore.
      Twang they. And I incline this ear to tin,
      Consult a dual dilemma. Whether to dry
      In humming pallor or to leap and die.

      Somebody muffed it?? Somebody wanted to joke.


      The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

      I shall not sing a May song.
      A May song should be gay.
      I'll wait until November
      And sing a song of gray.

      I'll wait until November
      That is the time for me.
      I'll go out in the frosty dark
      And sing most terribly.

      And all the little people
      Will stare at me and say,
      "That is the Crazy Woman
      Who would not sing in May."

      Sadie and Maud by Gwendolyn Brooks

      Maud went to college.
      Sadie stayed home.
      Sadie scraped life
      With a fine toothed comb.

      She didn't leave a tangle in
      Her comb found every strand.
      Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
      In all the land.

      Sadie bore two babies
      Under her maiden name.
      Maud and Ma and Papa
      Nearly died of shame.

      When Sadie said her last so-long
      Her girls struck out from home.
      (Sadie left as heritage
      Her fine-toothed comb.)

      Maud, who went to college,
      Is a thin brown mouse.
      She is living all alone
      In this old house.

  – Cat

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