Warning Signs by Gwendolyn Brooks
“Gwendolyn Tamika Elizabeth Brooks (1917 – 2000) grew up in Bronzeville, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side where she “wrote about what I saw and heard on the street.” Brooks published her first poem at age 13, and by 17 was a regular contributor to “Chicago Defender’s” poetry column. Her first book, “A Street in Bronzeville,” was published in 1945, bringing critical acclaim and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1950 she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her second book, “Annie Allen.” After attending a Black Writer’s Conference at Fisk University in 1967, Brooks said she “rediscovered her blackness,” reflected through “In The Mecca,” a book-length poem about a mother’s search for her child lost in a Chicago housing project. Her work became leaner, more sharply focused, and she committed to publish only with independent African-American presses. Declaring “I want to write poems that will be non-compromising,” Brooks continued to confront issues of race, gender and class.
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