Gwendolyn Brooks' We Real Cool

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Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool"

The poem 'We Real Cool' by Gwendolyn Brooks is a stream of the thoughts of poor inner city African-Americans who have adopted a hoodlum lifestyle. Though many can have different interpretations of this poem, it is fair to look at the life and career or the works and influences of Gwendolyn Brooks.

The life and art of the black American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, began on June 7, 1917 when she was born in Topeka, Kansas. She was the first child of Keziah Corine Wims and David Anderson Brooks. When she was four, her family moved to their permanent residence on Champlin Avenue in Chicago. Her deep interest in poetry consumed much of her early life. For instance, Brooks began rhyming at the age of seven. When she was thirteen, she had her first poem, 'Eventide', published in American Childhood Magazine. Her first experience of high school came from the primary white high school in the city, Hyde Park High School. Thereafter, she transferred to an all-black high school and then to the integrated Englewood High School. By 1934, Brooks had become a member of the staff of the Chicago Defender and had published almost one hundred of her poems in a weekly poetry column. In 1936, she graduated from Wilson Junior College.

Another part of her life came as she married Henry Blakely just two years after she graduated from college. At the age of twenty-three, Brooks had her first child, Henry, Jr., and by 1943, she had won the Midwestern Writers Conference Poetry Award. Her first book of poetry, published in 1945, altered a commonly held view about the production of black arts in America but also brought her instant critical acclaim. In addition, she has accompanied several other awards, which includes two Guggenheim awards, appointment as Poet Laureate of Illinois, and the National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Brooks was the first African-American writer both win the Pulitzer Prize and to be appointed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Brooks received more than fifty honorary doctorates from colleges and universities. Her first teaching job was at a poetry workshop at Columbia College in Chicago. In 1969, the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center opened on the campus of Western Illinois University. She went on to teach creative writing at a number of institutions including Northeastern Illinois University...

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...from the dullness of schoolwork to many possibilities. The next lines poke fun at the value of education and celebrate their street learning. ?Lurk late,? ?Strike straight,? ?Sing sin,? and ?Thin gin,? contradict any possibility for mental growth. Symbolism comes in the picture in the next line, ?We Jazz June,? which has many meanings. The word ?Jazz? signifies sexual intercourse. Then the word ?June? becomes a female. The tone of the poem dramatically changes when the reader learns the dropouts die soon. The group end in the last line, ?Die soon,? the final consequence of trying to be cool. Seemingly having fun in the beginning being cool, they are now completely powerless because they are dead. The poem really gives an obvious picture of what young African-American males are driven to do under the impression of trying to be cool. Since their minds are headed straight to corruption, they have no clue because they are having so much fun being cool. Leaving school, staying out late, singing sin, drinking alcohol, and having sex apparently are the only things that are important to them. With this mentality, more and more inner city males while continue hastening toward their death.
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