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Gwendolyn Brooks

  • Abortions will not let you forget. / You remember the children you got that you did not get ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "the mother," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • But who walks with Him? — dares to take His arm, / To slap Him on the shoulder, tweak His ear, / Buy Him a Coca-Cola or a beer, / Pooh-pooh His politics, call Him a fool?

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "the preacher: ruminates behind the sermon," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • ... sometimes you have to deal / Devilishly with drowning men in order to swim them to shore.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Negro Hero," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • No man can give me any word but Wait ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • I swear to keep the dead upon my mind, / Disdain for all time to be overglad.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "mentors," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • People like definite decisions, / Tidy answers, all the little ravelings / Snipped off, the lint removed, they / Hop happily among their roughs / Calling what they can't clutch insanity / Or saintliness.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Memorial to Ed Bland," Annie Allen ()
  • What shall I give my children? who are poor, / Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "the children of the poor," Annie Allen ()
  • Exhaust the little moment / Soon it dies.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "exhaust the little moment," Annie Allen ()
  • We do not want them to have less. / But it is only natural that we should think we have not enough. / We drive on, we drive on.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Beverly Hills, Chicago," Annie Allen ()
  • And if sun comes / How shall we greet him? / Shall we not dread him, / Shall we not fear him / After so lengthy a / Session with shade?

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "truth," Annie Allen ()
  • There are no magics or elves / Or timely godmothers to guide us. We are lost, must / Wizard a track through our own screaming weed.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "intermission," Annie Allen ()
  • ... dandelions were what she chiefly saw. Yellow jewels for everyday, studding the patched green dress of her back yard.

  • What she wanted was to donate to the world a good Maud Martha. That was the offering, the bit of art, that could not come from any other. She would polish and hone that.

  • ... she was learning to love moments. To love moments for themselves.

  • She had a tremendous impatience with other people's ideas — unless those happened to be exactly like hers; even then, often as not, she gave a hurried, almost angry, affirmative, and flew on to emphatic illuminations of her own.

  • We real cool. We / Left school. We / Lurk late. We / Strike straight. We / Sing sin. We / Thin gin. We / Jazz June. We / Die soon.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "We Real Cool," The Bean Eaters ()
  • My last defense / Is the present tense.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Old Mary," The Bean Eaters ()
  • To be in love / Is to touch things with a lighter hand.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "To Be in Love," Selected Poems ()
  • One reason cats are happier than people / is that they have no newspapers ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • title poem, In the Mecca ()
  • This is the urgency: Live! / and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "The Second Sermon on the Warpland," In the Mecca ()
  • ... beware the easy griefs / that fool and fuel nothing.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Boys. Black," Beckonings ()
  • And I ride ride I ride on to the end — ... / To fail, to flourish, to wither or to win. / We lurch, distribute, we extend, begin.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • in Concerning Poetry ()
  • Words can do wonderful things. They pound, purr. They can urge, they can wheedle, whip, whine. They can sing, sass, singe. They can churn, check, channelize. They can be a "Hup two three four." They can forge a fiery army of a hundred languid men.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • afterword to Pauline Hopkins's 1899 Contending Forces ()
  • I don't want people running around saying Gwen Brooks's work is intellectual. That makes people think instantly about obscurity. It shouldn't have to mean that, but it often seems to.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • I know that the Black emphasis must be not against white but FOR Black.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Dreams of a Black Christmas," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • It frightens me to realize that, if I had died before the age of fifty, I would have died a 'Negro' fraction ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Dreams of a Black Christmas," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • As you get older, you find that often the wheat, disentangling itself from the chaff, comes out to meet you.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Dreams of a Black Christmas," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • Poetry is life distilled.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World ()
  • I tell poets that when a line just floats into your head, don't pay attention 'cause it probably has floated into somebody else's head.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World ()
  • I believe we should all know each other, we human carriers of so many pleasurable differences. To not know is to doubt, to shrink from, sidestep or destroy.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • in Jet ()
  • The poetry is myself.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Books are meat and medicine / and flame and flight and flower / steel, stitch, cloud and clout, / and drumbeats on the air.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • I am an ordinary human being who is impelled to write poetry. ... I still do feel that a poet has a duty to words, and that words can do wonderful things, and it's too bad to just let them lie there without doing anything with and for them.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Interviews: March 29, 1969," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • The civil rights situation is like a pregnancy. It will get worse, I believe, before it gets better. What the usual pregnancy comes to is a decent baby. That is what we all hope will be the end product of this stress. It is customary, at the end of a pregnancy, to have for your pains a decent baby.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Interviews: Summer, 1967," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • When white and black meet today, sometimes there is a ready understanding that there has been an encounter between two human beings. But often there is only, or chiefly, an awareness that Two Colors are in the room.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Interviews: Summer, 1967," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker. It has always been hard for me to say exactly what I mean in speech But if I have written a clumsiness, I may erase it.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Interviews: Summer, 1967," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • ... at a certain moment in social proceedings, I am on FIRE to leave: I have a leaving-FIT.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Appendix: Collage," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • Gimme an upsweep, Minnie, / With humpteen baby curls, / 'Bout time I got some glamour, / I'll show them girls.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "at the hairdresser's," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • Maud went to college, / Sadie stayed at home. / Sadie scraped life / With a fine-tooth comb.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Sadie and Maud," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • We are each other's harvest / we are each other's business: / we are each other's magnitude and bond.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Paul Robeson," Family Pictures ()

Gwendolyn Brooks, U.S. poet, educator, writer

(1917 - 2000)

Full name: Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks Blakely.