Archive for January 29, 2011

Revisiting Gwendolyn Brooks

I don’t know how old I was when I first read a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks — 12, maybe 13.  I don’t know where I even found the poem.  But I do remember the specific poem, “a song in the front yard,” and I do remember reciting my favorite stanza:  “I stayed in the front yard all my life./I want a peek at the back/Where it’s rough and unattended and hungry weed grows/A girl gets sick of a rose.”

Of course, I didn’t know about symbolism or other poetic devices at the time.  I just liked the music in her words.  And I loved the last line “A girl gets sick of a rose.” 

I still love Gwendolyn Brooks.  I teach “We Real Cool” whenever I can, and many other of her poems have been added to my favorites list.  This past year, I made a resolution on my GoodReads reading group to read more collections from “classic” poets.  Brooks is one of the poets whose work I know; however, I never read one of her collection in its entirety. That’s why I read her Selected Poems published by HarperCollins.  This collection offers segments from her many books including A Street in Bronzeville, Annie Allen and The Bean Eaters.  This book also contains a mini biography of Brooks’ life along with a tribute by Nikki Giovanni titled “Remembering Gwen.”  In short, this is a collection that gave me a chance to revisit old favorites, while discovering new works.