#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 12 “If you like that, you’ll like this.”


The Warmth of Other Suns is my favorite non-fiction for many reasons. It reads like fiction and I learned a lot while reading it. If you haven’t picked it up, you need to. It’s extraordinary! If you like this, you’ll love The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks. This little gem covers her earliest poetry from World War II through the turbulent 1960s until her death in 2000. These poems talk about life in the African-American community – racism, survival, slums, etc. Beautifully lyrical poems that no lover of poetry should miss out on. This poetry collection is a natural extension of The Warmth of Other Suns.

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson, paperback, 620 pages (Vintage Books)

The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks – Edited by Elizabeth Alexander, hardcover, 142 pages (Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 21 Favorite Poetry Collection

Day 21 – Favorite Poetry Collection  Hands down has to be Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks.  I’ve gotten almost three quarters through the collection this month and I’m in awe by the sheer brilliance of all of these poems – depth, syncopation, lyrical, cultural, meaningful, black….  This is a collection you must own and read.  I’m sure I’ll be rereading Blacks over and over for a very long time.

“Here is a necessary collection of poetry for admirers of words and treasurers of literary img_2532beauty. Spanning more than 30 years, this collection of literary masterpieces by the venerable Ms. Gwendolyn Brooks, arguably Illinois’ most beloved Poet Laureate and Chicago’s elder black literary stateswoman, Blacks includes all of Ms. Brooks’ critically acclaimed writings. Within its covers is the groundbreaking “Annie Allen,” which earned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. There is also the sweepingly beautiful and finely crafted “A Street in Bronzeville,” a highly anticipated and lauded poetic treasure that spoke volumes for this great poet’s love of black people, Chicago’s Black community, and even the community of the world. Blacks includes a special treat, Maud Martha, Brooks’ only novel.” (Blacks, Goodreads description)

The Bean Eaters  – (Blacks, page 330)
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

My copy: Blacks, paperback 512 pages


I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying.

The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

I bought this tiny book of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems about a year and a half ago. I picked it up and read two orIMG_0114 three poems and put it down.  Why?  I have no unearthly idea!   Insanity! What was I thinking?!  So when I was rummaging through the books on my shelves looking for something different to read for Black History month, I fell immediately on The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks and a eureka came out on contact.

I read the entire book of poems in about three hours.  I surely could have read it faster but I really wanted to soak up the rich language and ideas conveyed in them.  I remember having heard Maya Angelou recite We Real Cool when I was a teenager.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of studying Brooks’ poems in high school or at university.  While reading I wondered why that could have been.  How could such lyrical, moving, opulent, and culturally informative poetry be in essence left to the side?

Brooks’ poems speak about racism and African-American life.  She mainly wrote about what surrounded her.  She said,  “If you wanted a poem, you only had to look out of a window.  There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.” (The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, p. xvii)  Brooks wrote about 75 published poems by the time she turned sixteen years old.  So she never stopped trying to perfect her craft as a poet there after, while in turn writing poetry that reflected the times.  With tremendous passion, she was ingenious in writing her poetry in all types styles – blues, sonnets, jazz, ballads, free verse, and even enjambed like in her ever famous poem We Real Cool.

We Real Cool

The Pool Players. 
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

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
What a wonderful way to celebrate Women Writers month by sneaking a peek at poems written by the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950.  So do you like to read poetry? If so, what are some of your favourites?  Let me know if you’ll be reading some novels or poetry written by women this month to honour women writer.
Check out this fantastic clip of Gwendolyn Brooks where she shares her thoughts on her writing, race, poetry, African-American women writers, etc.