Gwendolyn Brooks Archive
Poems, Eleanor Wilner has said, are vehicles meant to circumscribe the boundaries of the self, but our individual imaginations are situated within politics and history. Use of the first-person plural, then, can open up the poem’s historical vision.
As a commemoration and celebration of Gwendolyn Brooks’s work, the University of Arkansas Press released The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks. Editor and Chicago high school educator Peter Kahn explains the importance of the anthology and the transformative nature of poetry.
For so long, I’ve heard academic poets and readers disparage poems written to be spoken aloud, condemning them as less thoughtful, as noisy and navel-gazey, their craft less delicate and considered.
Recently I was looking at calls for poetry and I came across one that listed the editor’s preferences for the type of work that appealed to her. She listed the things which, in her mind, made a poem worthy of calling itself a poem.
Two winters ago, brand-new to the creative writing community of Madison, Wisconsin, I was at ground zero of the national debate on union rights, caught in a throng of 70,000 protestors marching around the State Capitol, screaming “Whose Streets? Our Streets!,” “This Is What Democracy Looks Like!,” and “It’s