Thursday, June 07, 2007

Today in History: Happy Birthday Gwendolyn Brooks

Ninety years ago today, the much lauded and loved Chicago-based poet Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas. She is probably best known for her poem We Real Cool, and there's a wonderful audio clip available on the site (click here) of her describing the inspiration for the piece and the misguided controversy it caused.

It's a poem that still has resonance on the far Northside of Chicago where I live. The sight of groups of young men cutting school and thumbing their nose at authority is not uncommon here, and in other parts of the city. Unfortunately, the sense that they don't have much of a future in this society is also still pretty prevalent. It's certainly a failing that we as a city and a country need to do a better job addressing.

Here's the poem:

We Real Cool

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
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