Online Resources for Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is best known for her sonnets and ballads, although after 1967 she wrote primarily in free verse. She is associated with the Black Arts movement, but because of the breadth and scope of her writing, many place her in a category all her own. She was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Below is a partial list of some of the items included in an annotated bibliography I prepared for a course in 20th century American poetry. I’ve only listed the resources available online, but there are plenty to keep you busy for an hour or so.

The Academy of American Poets

Although there are many free recording of Gwendolyn Brooks online, sells a wonderful CD of Lucille Clifton and Brooks reading at the Guggenheim Museum in 1983. Brooks tells wonderful back stories to her poems that are entertaining in and of themselves.

The Library of Congress Website for Gwendolyn Brooks

Armenti, Peter. “Gwendolyn Brooks: Online Resources.” 30 July, 2010. Web Guides, US Poet  Laureates, Virtual Services Digital Reference Services, US Library of Congress.

A list of just about every type of Brooks-related items: audio recordings, videos, websites, lesson plans, books, reviews, obituaries, histories, and criticism.

Baker, Jr., Houston A. “Review of Blacks by Gewendolyn Brooks” Black American Literature  Forum, Vol. 24, No. 3 Autumn, 1990, pp. 567-573 St. Louis University. 26 October, 2010. Web.

In his critical examination of The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (Harper, 1971), a collection of her poems from over three decades of work, Houston Baker offers a succinct summary of many classic Brooks poems, as well as an exploration of her interest in race, gender, and class. He also shows how her work grew out of, yet differed from, the poetry of such well-known African American writers as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.

BBC Poetry Archive

Brooks is one of only a few American poets included in the BBC poetry archives. This BBC website contains a brief  but informative biography, as well as recordings of Brooks reading the following seven  poems: “Kitchenette Building,” “The Mother,” “a song in the front yard,”? “of DeWitt Williams on his way to the Lincoln Cemetery,” “We Real Cool,” “The Lovers of the Poor,” and “A Sunset of the City.”

The Poetry Foundation

Many of Brooks’ poems first appeared in Poetry, which has enabled this website to share a great number of her poems, including those written after her pivotal Fisk University experience. There is an excellent critical biography and a long list of both recorded and printed poems. I especially like the details about her publishing experiences after she left Harper’s. There is also a long list of reviews, books, biographies, and obituaries for those who might be interested in conduction a more in-depth research of Brooks’ work.

Socialism and Democracy Online , Issue #53 Vol 24, No. 2. 2002. Research Group Research.  Group on Socialism and Democracy.

Contains a copy of “The Ballad of Pearl May Lee” from her first book, A Street in Bronzeville, 1945. Also included is a brief but useful note on how Brooks fits into both the Harlem and the Chicago Renaissance.

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