Student Lens-Gwendolyn Brooks Profile

Last Updated by Produced By Almudena Rincon and Justin Malone , Eva Green on

Produced by: Almudena Rincon and Justin Malone 

When I first heard the name Gwendolyn Brooks, it was mentioned in my literature classes but I didn’t know who she was. As I started to read about her, I became fascinated by her story, her poetry and her influence.

What I didn’t know was that Brooks was the first black poet to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first black woman to work in the Library Of Congress. She was definitely a poet I wanted to know better.

And her story would be closer to me than I thought for her life as a writer began here on Chicago’s Southside. She moved from Topeka, Kansas to the neighborhood of Bronzeville in Chicago when she was very young. And when she was thirteen, she published her first poem.  When she was seventeen, she was published regularly in Chicago Defender.

Like her, I’ve been writing since I was very young, using my words as a way to tell stories.

My favorite poem is “Truth” because it expresses sadness and hope clearly. It is beautiful. 

Not only did my fascination with Brooks connect with her amazing work and award-winning poetry, but where her story takes place. She attended community college at what is now known as Kennedy-King College where I’m working at my internship.

Not far from Kennedy-King is the South Side Community Arts Center where Brooks developed her writing career. 

Being one of the most important members of the African-American artist community, Brooks sat in the piano and wrote.

Brooks’ work has been very influential. Her poems address racial issues and political inequalities.

The poem collection that won her the Pulitzer Prize was Annie Allen, which tells the story of a young black girl becoming an adult and carries comments on social issues, such as women and their role.

This year we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of her birth, just as the American Writers Museum opens in Chicago. Brooks is featured in the gallery of local and in the national writers.

Learning about Brooks has been an amazing journey. She is only one of the many writers I will get to know throughout my life.